Friday, 30 November 2012

Microsoft UK visit University of Northampton

Sports marketing students Ben Warren and Callum Hill were privileged today to speak to Tony Henderson, who offered his expertise to the University of Northampton. Tony is the Account Director of Microsoft UK and specialises in technology and engineering. Ben and Callum are currently in the process of developing a start-up business in the mobile technology sector.

After an inspiring lecture about Tony's career and his role at Microsoft, our attention shifted to a "Dragon's Den" style pitch, whereby we spoke about our business idea. Tony was really helpful in giving us feedback and advice for the future, as well as providing opportunities to further aid the process of starting up a business.

Receiving positive feedback has been fantastic for us, but to hear this from an expert in the industry reinforces our beliefs that our idea could be a success. We are committed to using the knowledge that we have acquired at university to help us along the way, as well as using our position as students to our advantage. We can get instant free business advice from a number of sources, and we are very grateful to a number of University lecturers for this.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Killing ten birds with one stone

It is widely accepted that attending lectures is of significant importance to attaining the best degree possible. The question I would like to raise is how important is turning up to lectures? Is it possible to get all the required information online nowadays? Would using the time I spend in lectures be better spent doing my own research?

All of these questions are ones that I will never attempt to answer while I am still at university. There is a sense of guilt if a lecture is missed, a sense of what I may be missing out on. However, in the last 12 months, I believe that a lot of the content we have been taught has been invaluable. The reason for this is integration between lectures is far more prominent. For example, one particular lecture may give me knowledge for that respective assignment, but also give me an extra insight to look at something else from a different perspective.

The was perfectly summed up in the career development session earlier today. We had a guest speaker talk to us about how he set up his own business. Primarily, the session gave us insight into how to start up a business, and the ideas behind his company. Despite this being very interesting in its own right, it so happened that his business directly related to another major piece of work from another module. After a brief conversation, he had allowed us access to crucial data and given us contact information for the head of research from the English Football Association.

So after walking in to a career development session, I walked out much further along the line in a totally different area. If this opportunity had not arisen, it would have taken weeks to get the same level of research. Lectures may seem at times like a pointless exercise, but without them, you will miss more than just the bare facts!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Marketing is Everywhere!

Studying sports marketing over the last three years has enabled us to gain a fair understanding of how big the marketing industry is. A famous quote popped to mind recently that sums this up perfectly.

"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

We have all heard this, but it has never been used in conjunction with marketing. My analysis would suggest that if a product is put to market and no one hears about it, is it really a product?

I feel this encompasses the importance of getting your marketing strategy spot on. You may have a great product, but if no-one knows about it, will they buy it? Unlikely.

In my next post, I will share information about a business that we have recently set up. Many people have asked questions surrounding competition and differentiation to other similar products. My argument is that although our product is unique, our main differentiation strategy is in its successful marketing.

Just remember a famous quote from marketing guru Phillip Kotler, who states that marketing is everywhere!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Transition from Student to Employee

Being a final year student at University, the prospect of what to do after graduation is one that is constantly looming over our heads.

As well as acing that report in Brand Management or revising for an important Marketing exam, we now have several aspects of our working lives to juggle. The attitudes of many students have now changed. We hear worrying reports about a shortage of jobs in the industry, so how do we put ourselves in the best position to get employed after graduation? The buzz word of being "a rounded individual" is being constantly thrown at us, but what does it actually mean? Our particular University has us on a designated module called "Career Development and Planning", but does doing that get us a killer job in Sports Marketing? Well, Maybe!

When looking at our timetables before we started, it was fair to say that we as students approached this module with caution."We are Sports Marketing students, we want to learn about Sports Marketing!" was the initial feeling.  After an introductory lecture, we were straight to the office of the course leader to change to a different subject. 

However, we are now six weeks in, and its fair to say opinions have changed. As students, we were aware of being "a rounded individual", but now we have an action plan to become rounded individuals. What we have been taught is what we should be doing between now and graduation to put us in the best possible position to land our dream jobs.

Whereas in the past everything seemed so linear, the adage of get a good degree therefore get a good job is not necessarily the case anymore. With the help of this module, it has given us a realisation before it is too late.

So what exactly does one have to do to make themselves more employable? Its difficult to know where to start, with everything from creating an online presence to researching industries and gaining valuable insights being very important. But for me personally, it doesn't matter if I don't learn anything from here forward, because the realisation mentioned earlier could possibly turn out to be the single most important thing I will learn all year.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

University of Northampton - Promotional Video

We were recently asked to do some promotional work for the University of Northampton, which entailed describing what is was to be a sports marketing student.

Here is the video

Head in the Clouds

Being a university student at present gives one a number of amazing technological opportunities.

The problem is, it seems that they are being totally ignored by at least 95% of students. There are many who moan and groan about how difficult organisation and efficiency is, with so many distractions that are thrown at them.

The technology is out there to make our lives as students much easier! When describing the benefits of such programs, the response is often that of caution. Will it make any difference? Will it be easy to set up? Will I still be using it after a week? The answer to all these questions will more than likely be YES!

It is amazing to think it has been two years since my university career began, and how technology has changed the way I operate as a student. All of my work is now online, in the "cloud", and there for me anywhere I go. No more "I forgot my USB stick" or "i'll have to email it to you". Let me share some information about two of the best bits of tech for a student to have.

The first, and the most important, is an online file sharing service. I use Dropbox myself, but there are many options available depending on personal preference. As a student, I can instantly back up any work I have done, and have it instantly transported across all of my devices. It is at its best when doing group-work. My number 1 tip for any student undertaking a group project is to get dropbox! Get everyone to get a free account, make a file that everyone can share with each other, and watch as group members can simultaneously update and view work from any member. Its that simple! Imagine a power point that everyone can add there own ideas to without having to email it around like playing pass the parcel.

The other tool that has been crucial for me is a tablet computer. I use an ipad, but there are now hundreds of options available at a variety of price points. The reason for this device is simple, when you go to lectures, it is your best friend! As well as being easy to transport, the tablet will let you write up simple notes, or even record the lecture if you are feeling lazy. After the lecture, upload everything wirelessly to Dropbox and there you have it. After time, you will automatically build an online portfolio of notes and work that is organised into simplistic folders, no paper or untidiness!

It really is a simple decision, it is time to get your head in the clouds!

Friday, 4 May 2012

The Globalisation of Sport (Prezi Presentation)

Overall, it can be considered that globalisation has had important influences on the relationship between sport and business, but this needs to be continuously managed in order to maintain the core values of traditional sport.

The role that globalisation has played can be analysed by looking at the potential difference between past and present. Seymour (2012) sums up the changes by suggesting that on a geographical and political map, country borders are clear and evident, but on a competitive map, this may not be the case due to globalisation. This can relate back to the original definition from Wolsey & Abrams of “Global Interconnectedness”. The world is “shrinking” and becoming a homogenized “Global Village” due to the power of globalisation.

New Media in Twenty20 Cricket

New Media allows sports brands to benefit by enabling new kinds of interaction between fans, players and clubs. This form of media would have synergies with the target audience of Twenty20 cricket.

The problem with Twenty20 cricket is that there seems to a lack of fan engagement. Mintel (2011) suggests that sports organisations should do more to improve fan engagement, and New Media could bridge a gap between the event and its consumers. It would be recommended that the event could have an application in mobile devices, which has proved popular for other sports and events. This has proved an effective means of communicating digital content such as live scores, future events, team news, interviews, replays, live statistics and social media activity. It would also be a positive move to have free Wi-Fi available at every venue, which would ensure easy access to the applications. This would be relatively inexpensive to set up, but would coincide with the brand personality of innovation and entertainment. 

The Ideology of Legacies in Mega Events

Legacies have become a prominent part of any event management process. For some events, the issue of a legacy has become central to the decision to host or create them (Bowdin et al, 2011). The idea of a legacy has become more important due to the increased globalisation and commercialisation of sport, as organisers see the increased benefits that the event can bring. Conversely, it is evident legacies are often talked about, but in reality, are very difficult to achieve. The legacy is often dubbed as a “highly effective sales pitch that is never fully realised” (Guardian, 2011). The focus is on the short term legacies, which is often how the Games are judged to those outside of the host nations. After looking at different examples of legacies, it is clear that those events that have planned effectively and placed high importance on the legacy can succeed. This is a positive sign for the London Olympics, as there is a high motivation to succeed. The best legacies are those that look to the long term. This is difficult to achieve and is often a risky strategy, but mega events can have a lasting impact on the event destination in many ways.

How can NFL globalise into the UK Market?

The campaign looks at improving the popularity of the sport in the UK by offering the sports consumer more touch points than are offered currently. The main idea behind the campaign is to offer more matches in the UK, and to officially re-launch the sport using a new innovate strategy. The campaign will focus on using up-to-date sport marketing techniques to ensure that the re-launch is successful. At present, there is one game in the UK per year, but the campaign would ensure something more substantial than a series of one-off fixtures that is required to sustain the fans' interest. The plan looks at increasing the number of venues available in the UK, and looking at the best scenario to ensure success in the UK, but also to avoid negative impacts in the USA. To increase the popularity, the plan will look at different areas of sports marketing objectives, including increased participation in UK schools and universities. This has already been achieved, with the British Universities American Football League has expanding from 42 teams to 67 last season (Bandini, 2011), but the campaign looks at providing a springboard for rapid improvements in the infrastructure and the provisions of American football in the UK. The last aspect of the campaign will focus on the long term future of the sport in the UK. There have been talks of the game having its own team from London competing in the NFL. The plan will assess the possibilities for this and look to tackle some of the problems that will occur.

The key reasons to this expansion into the UK are linked with the development of the game worldwide. They are too:

·         Increase participation levels of the sport outside of the USA

·         Increase awareness and raise the profile of the sport outside of the USA

·         Look into potential further worldwide growth, with a potential move of a UK franchise team in the long term.

The mission statement for the campaign is:

To provide sports consumers in the United Kingdom with improved access to the NFL, by offering more events to attend, watch and participate in all activity regarding American Football

My Thoughts on New Media and Technology

Wilson (2010) suggests that the technology and means available for delivering sport to different sections of society is continuing to grow rapidly. The technologically imperative society we live in has created multiple and expanded opportunities to do sports marketing. A recent culture change has seen a shift from a spectator culture to a participatory one. Jenkins (2011) defines a participatory culture as one where most people have the capacity to take media into their own hands and shape the circulation of ideas. This concept is making sports consumers more involved in the overall package that sport provides.

In order to fully realise the potential of this new phenomenon, it is recommended that new media strategies be flexible and innovative, to keep up with the demands of society. Mintel (2011) suggests that sports organisations should do more to improve fan engagement. Ideas such as smartphone applications have been successful, but can go much deeper. Concepts such as Wi-Fi to key sections of the stadium where core supporters sit, would enable mobile phone applications to connect these fans with team news, interviews, replays, live statistics and social media activity. A key quote from the media services provider from FIFA sums up how organisations should act on the topic:

"Experiment, do it early, and make sure you are not limited to just one platform going forward" Deltatre, 2011

The Role Marketing has Played in Twenty20 Cricket

In the case of Twenty20, it is clear that marketing has played a vital role in changing the perceptions of the sport. The control process allows performance measures to be included, and indeed, 9% of adults who say they are not otherwise interested in cricket follow Twenty20 (MarketResearchWorld, 2008). This shows that the positioning strategy has been successful, and when evaluated, demonstrates marketing objective is being achieved. This should therefore guarantee the innovation was successful, but despite all its commercial success, the long term future of the game is in doubt. High levels of demand have led to fixture overkill and could lead to the format loosing consumers. The consequence of this is that the positioning strategy could fail as the concept would no longer be seen as exciting, but rather stagnant. There is also an ethical concern as to whether Twenty20 and the way it is marketed are good for cricket. Despite its obvious revitalisation due to marketing, traditional supports question the need for the change all together. The argument is that cricket is one of the most traditional sports in the world, and due to the influence of marketing, is being ridden of its heritage.

The Emergance of Sports Marketing

Sports marketing is a relatively new concept within marketing. Some of the concepts were introduced up to 150 years ago, with the first advertising of sports products. Andrews et al suggests that sports marketing has seen massive growth since the 1970’s, and coincides his theory with the globalisation and commercialisation of sport. Shank, 2005, relates to sports marketing as the “specific application of the marketing principles and processes to sports products”. It is crucial that the sports industry is well understood to appreciate this statement. The sporting industry as a whole is worth $114 billion at present (Pricewaterhousecoopers, 2011). It is clear that people often attend sporting events regularly and sport is unique in its ability to attract repeat consumption. The value of the industry is ever increasing, with an annual growth rate of 3.8 percent predicted in the next 2 years (Pricewaterhousecoopers, 2011). Unlike many events, sporting events are spontaneous and unpredictable. This can lead to positive influences, and enhanced similarities with entertainment. This has led to the term “sportainment” being adopted.

My Thoughts on the Potential Overhaul of County Championship Cricket

My proposal is to introduce a change of start time for the tournament. At present, the games take place during the day, starting at 11am. As this form of cricket lasts for roughly 6 hours of a day, it is excluding key market segments due to work and school. My plan would include the use of floodlights to start the matches at 3pm. There are now permanent floodlights at many of the grounds in England, which have been set up specifically for one day cricket. This is infrastructure that can be re-used for the proposed campaign. It would be classed as day/night cricket, which would allow the games to start in natural light and then have the floodlights take over as needed. This scheme has been successfully implemented in one day cricket, at both international and county levels, over the last 20 years. Other key changes include the use of a pink ball, which has only recently been trialled in a competitive match. This distinctive change would act as a promotional icon to the campaign, and used to create positive associations with the proposed format. The campaign will look at various incentives based on price, as the current format is seen as expensive and inferior value in comparison. The current campaign views one day cricket as direct competition, which needs to be altered in order to attract emerging market segments.

My Overview of the Sporting Industry

Sports events are some of the most popular events attended worldwide. The sporting market as a whole is worth $114 billion (Pricewaterhousecoopers, 2011). The sports events sector is currently worth only £2.3bn in comparison (Bladen, 2012). This represents 6.4% of the whole events industry. It is clear that people often attend sporting events regularly and sport is unique in its ability to attract repeat consumption. The value of the industry is ever increasing, with an annual growth rate of 3.8 percent predicted in the next 2 years (Pricewaterhousecoopers, 2011). These figures establish sport as an important contributor to the general economy, but also of wide significance to society – impacting the lives of a significant amount of people (Bladen, 2012). In the UK economy, the 2012 Olympics looks set to boost the sporting industry, with the games officially the biggest event ever staged in the UK. The 2012 London Olympics will have a positive effect on the events industry overall, seeing an increase in value of 8% of the total market (Keynote, 2011).

How Weather can Affect Sport

Sporting events are often a seen as a window of commercial opportunity for organisations. The weather, conversely, is an external factor that can severely damage this opportunity both financially and non-financially. It has been shown to affect many different stakeholders involved in the event. It can also affect a wide variety of sporting areas, from local to mega events. In order to remain profitable, event managers must plan the event methodically to cover the possible implications that weather could have, from all aspects including marketing, finance and operations.  It is also crucial to implement these plans efficiently if a risk management decision has to be made. It should be understood that an event can still be successful and leave a positive legacy despite being affected by weather; if this is managed effectively. It is clear that events often struggle to overcome the weather, but it is possible to reduce its impact if the organisation is pro-active and makes the issue a priority.

My name is Ben Warren. I am a second year undergraduate at the University of Northampton, studying Sports Marketing. The purpose of this website is to document a portfolio of my ideas surrounding different aspects of Sports Business. I hope you find this a useful tool.