IPL is a much loved season not only for cricket players and fans but also for brands and advertisers.
IPL powerful marketing and promotional channel for reaching out to a highly motivated consumer base and changing their attitudes/behaviours towards your brand. IPL is considered an almost risk-free promotional platform due to its consistent ratings and rising popularity since the inception. The player auction of 2018 itself attracted
46.5 million viewers and 700 million viewers are expected to tune into the 10th season of IPL.
Apart from the numbers, cricket is almost a religion in India and enjoys the advantage of breaking the barriers of age, sex, geographical location etc. when it comes to viewer base. Therefore a diverse range of brands and companies use IPL as the platform to send global marketing messages while retaining a sense of personalization to their target segments. In addition to the audience access, sponsors love IPL because of its ability to create emotional connections, brand loyalty and drive excitement by association. In spite of all these advantages, many brands fail to capitalize on this golden opportunity. The biggest mistake that even major brands are guilty of when it comes to IPL is concentrating on the obvious i.e. logo placement on the player jersey and turning a blind eye to much more effective and dynamic brand engagement opportunities. To begin with, the IPL player jersey is overcrowded with as many as
6 brands vying for space on an average and as per rules, the number can go up to 10. Now can you imagine what kind of attention your brand can draw in this space?
Unless your brand is super well known, in majority of the cases most viewers do not recognize your logo or understand what product/service you are offering. When you limit yourself to a player jersey you also risk backlash and association with poor performance or unsportsmanlike conduct with your brand. The jersey only approach can be counterproductive especially if you don’t have specific geographical priorities that justify your highly priced association to a local team.
Unless you get an exclusive
Sponsorship deal for a player jersey(like in football), this marketing and advertising approach is very unlikely to pay big dividends. So, brands big and small are increasingly favouring the digital options like Apps, social media, and streaming services etc. as viable solutions since they offer better tracking of ROI indicators like logo exposure, a high degree of personalization, and continued connection beyond game time etc.
If you are one of these brands that are ready to look beyond player jersey, check out the following flexible, personalized and high impact digital strategies to get you started -
1.Harness the power of Social media
IPL is an area of high interest and emotional engagement across the social media landscape. Social media like Facebook and Twitter are ideal for harnessing the power of micro-targeting. The social media content needs to be organic and novel - paid ads are no longer cutting it when it comes to standing out from the constant flow of content. Brands need to join in the discussion with engaging content like polls predicting match winners or contests for winning tickets to IPL matches etc. You also need to concentrate on what USP can you offer - Q & A with players, real-time streaming, behind the scenes info, interviews etc. A very successful example of such engagement was Wayne Rooney taking over the NIke Twitter wherein the fans could directly interact with him and also contribute to his charity.
2.Concentrate on influencers
Not all brands have the budget or clout to get high profile players onboard their marketing campaign. But, digital media effectively overcomes this bottlenecks thanks to the emerging trend of online influencers. Even global giants like
Nike are leveraging Youtube influencers to drive their message home. Influencers like bloggers, vloggers, fan pages, niche interest communities etc. enjoy the patronage and following of a highly targeted audience group. Partnering with such influencers creates a sense of association and instant trust around your brand. While looking for influencers, go not only by the number of followers but by the profile of the followers. Work with them to create content that fits organically with their overall image and does not feel like an in-your-face paid promotion. Product reviews and product giveaways are a good starting point to get into the game on this channel.
Today Apps are the lifeblood of our online engagement. As such any sponsor would be remiss in not exploring the branding and engagement options provided by mobile apps. IPL does have an official app but it suffers from drawbacks like no polls or voting, absence of player stats, not user-friendly interface, and the discrepancy between features of IOS and Android. You can create and promote your own app that addresses the above-said issues, which in turn gives you exclusivity and complete control over the content. Such an app would be ideal for ensuring that you enjoy continued engagement and direct access to your target audience. An alternative option is to collaborate with a third party app that enjoys a sizeable number of followers and has direct engagement options for you. Here, use the access wisely and avoid the temptation to constantly promote your product. Concentrate on creating relatable and useful content like match time alerts, score updates, discounts on tickets etc.
4. Don’t overlook streaming services
Thanks to the flexibility of access and availability of cheaper internet connections, streaming services like Hotstar are gaining popularity among the IPL audience. In spite of the 5-minute mandatory delay in the telecast, 71 million viewers watched the 2017 IPL season on Hotstar and the number is expected to cross 100 million this year. Streaming services are also becoming the darlings of sponsors as they overcome 2 major handicaps that TV telecast has. Firstly, the average household has 1 tv but 4 mobiles, so by sheer numbers streaming services are winning. Secondly, clear tracking of ROI and engagement in real-time makes it a highly justified channel for marketing investment. Lastly and most importantly streaming service gives you access to audience profile, so that you have an intimate knowledge of viewer preference, thus increasing your power to design highly effective and targeted marketing communication.
For brands and sponsors, the time has come to look for more novel and effective avenues that help to achieve their marketing goals during IPL. So,shift your IPL promotion to new and dynamic digital platforms to reach maximum audience and also to stand out from the crowd.
A life that started with sales and technology - dissuaded into consulting, Strategy, Cross border M&A and is now starting at scratch with a startup. He is currently the CEO of Onspon which is India's biggest event marketplace that aims to help event professionals create fantastic events and monetize them. Onspon helps event managers in getting sponsorships, selling stalls, partnering with great vendors and plan their event better. With partnerships like eventonapp, Onspon also uses mobile first platforms (event apps) to create fantastic opportunities for events to engage their audience and sponsors.
Hitesh is an industry speaker on event trends and is a part of multiple leadership forums. An avid traveler and foodie, he currently lives in Mumbai.
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