Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The 5Ps of Sports Marketing

One of the most gratifying aspects of being a scholar is the focus placed on learning. One might associate a professor with teacher. Yes, that is one of our roles... and a very important one. But, in order to be effective teachers we must be passionate learners first. For me, this fact of life for a scholar played out repeatedly as Mike Fetchko, Ken Clow, and I wrote the Sports Marketing textbook. The final product is designed as a resource for teaching, but a great deal of learning occurred during the three-year process of writing the book.  The insights and experiences that resulted in learning are too numerous to list, but one of the first learning moments was also one of the most poignant. And, it became the foundation for our textbook.

In the summer of 2009, Sports Marketing was in its embryonic stage. Mike Fetchko and I had a telephone conversation with Jeff Gregor, CMO at Turner and one of the book's industry contributors. A few minutes into our conversation, Jeff mentioned something that shaped development of the book. He referenced the "5Ps of sports marketing." What? I had been teaching marketing for fifteen years and practicing it for 10 years prior to that, but I had only heard of 4 Ps (product, price, place, and promotion). There is more? Not only was there a fifth P, but the mix was somewhat different than the traditional marketing mix.

The 5Ps of Sports Marketing
The learner in me could not wait to hear more about the 5Ps of sports marketing, so I asked Jeff Gregor to explain. This is what he told us:

  • Positioning - Understanding customers (consumption motivations, external environment influences, segmenting audiences)
  • Platform - Responding to customers by developing a bundle of benefits delivered as products, services, or experiences to meet their needs
  • Promotion - Engaging customers through strategically planned communications
  • People - Serving customers through effective implementation of platform and promotion
  • Profits - Satisfying customers while pursuing a dual goal of organizational profitability
We were hooked! Gregor's description of how to manage a sports marketing business is powerful because it is at the same time timeless and contemporary.

Something Old, Something New
It is not coincidental that the first P in the sports marketing mix is positioning. It is not positioning in the literal sense of crafting a brand position. Positioning refers to gaining understanding of the customer's needs, motivations, and influences. If that sounds familiar, it should- these aims have been the heart of marketing for decades. The term "customer focused" is often reduced to marketing-speak, but when positioning is practiced in this way an organization is indeed customer focused.

Perhaps the most surprising P is profits. Not very customer focused to be concerned with profits, is it? As marketers, we should never have to apologize for our pursuit of profits. In fact, profits are fundamental to marketing. The marketing concept has a dual focus of meeting customers' needs while achieving organizational goals such as profitability. The twist on profits today in marketing is the focus on measurement of marketing activity. Greater accountability exists for the effects of marketing decisions and investments on profits. Which promotions generated the highest incremental revenue? Did implementation of dynamic pricing drive ticket revenue and accompanying spending by patrons? Which offers in an email campaign yielded the highest click-through rates and sales? The emergence of big data and analytics as marketing management tools will serve to put greater emphasis on this "new" P of the sports marketing mix in the future.

The sports marketing mix can have 3 Ps, 5Ps, or 22 Ps, but there will always be one very important C: the Customer. Without customers, there is no need for marketing. Do not let "customer focused" become hollow words that sound good but have no influence in your decisions.