How To Market Inside A Sports Venue: 6 Ways
All marketing assets discussed below can be found and purchased on the FanFood Shop.
There are many reasons why we need in-venue marketing: advertising for your sponsors, promoting a special event, introducing a new amenity at the venue...Whatever it may be, we can all agree that it's golden opportunity to capture your audience (aka your fans) while they are physically inside the venue. And you’re probably presented with a myriad of options ranging from giving out flyers to giant fence banners.
So here comes the question: how do you choose which one is the best for your venue?
Different in-venue marketing materials can incur different costs, and depending on how they’re used, can achieve various levels of effectiveness. Most of the time we make the decision based on instincts, but what if there’s an objective evaluation/rating available?
Resources on this can be scarce (yes we Googled it), so we did the analysis and rating for you. Whether you represent a high school, a college or a professional stadium, this blog could help you in deciding what’s the best way to conduct in-venue marketing for your fans.
Ease of implementation: 🔴🔴🔴🔴⭕️
Cost: $16.7 for a good one, or close to zero cost if you just plan to print them on A4 paper.
This seems to be one of the most basic elements to the in-venue marketing repertoire. They're easy to design (especially with online graphic design tools like Canva) and relatively cheap to print. They’re also extremely easy to set up: all you need is some tape and a couple of helping hands.
The effectiveness of posters hinges upon where you place them. They could be extremely effective if they’re in conspicuous colors and slapped at where everyone would see — such as beside a ticket booth window or right at the entrance. Due to their smaller sizes, people will likely notice them only when they are up close, which can pose as a challenge in a spacious stadium. Therefore you have to be very strategic about a poster’s placement. What we’ve found is that bathroom stalls are a great place for posters, since people would literally have nothing to do besides staring at the door in front of them for...well, quite a few seconds.
However, their durability can really come into questions especially if they’re put up outdoors. Rain and snow can really ruin the paper. One way to counter that is to either laminate the posters or put them in metal frames, which can bring the cost up by $5 all they way to $40.
Pro Tip: Check the surface of the wall of where you intend to put the posters up. Sometimes grainy concrete walls aren’t the most ideal surface for adhesives to hold the posters up.
Ease of implementation: 🔴🔴🔴⭕️⭕️
Banners are pretty much the standard at almost any venue. They are big, which is great for fans who are likely seated far away; they can be put up pretty easily — as long as you have a fence and some zip ties; and they’re pretty durable, since most likely you can reuse them throughout at least one season. And these great qualities of course come at a higher cost than say, posters. A 4’ x 8’ vinyl banner typically comes at a cost of about $65, while smaller ones could cost less.
One thing to take note though: you may need more than one banner for the same messaging. Unless your banners are put at a place where everyone would walk past several times during a game, it’s very likely that only a section of the audience would be seeing it constantly. Especially if you have a home side and a visiting side, the side without the banner would be completely ignorant to the message on the banner. Therefore you might want to budget for at least 2 banners positioned far apart from each other to make sure all audiences are exposed to the messaging at some point during the game.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to cut out some slits (the word for those is actually “grommets”) all over the banners! Especially if they’re tied to a fence or in between two poles/trees, you might see them billowing like sails on a windy day and get ruined in no time.
Ease of implementation: 🔴🔴🔴🔴⭕️
Cost: About one cent per card If you order in bulk (1,000+)
This method of marketing is probably not for those who are super environmentally-conscious, since seeing these paper cards being given out and thrown out all within probably a few minutes could really get on the nerves of those who care about the 3Rs.
But business cards or small flyers really come with their own merits: they’re relatively cheap and almost guarantee the amount of impressions they’ll receive (since you’re literally handing the cards out to people and making sure that they take at least one look at them).
Simply pass them out at the entrance or distribute them along with the tickets. Since game attendees would need to carry the cards around with them, they can refer back to the information on the card whenever they like, unlike a poster or banner which one can easily take a quick glance and forget about.
You can even putting on the seats beforehand if your venue has individual numbered seats or cup holders (an alternative to this would be seat stickers). As people sit there waiting for the game to start, they’d probably spend a few seconds reading what’s on the card. You can also hire a few helpers or find a few students to give the cards out to people waiting in lines. Either way, the more cards you give out, the more effective this marketing method would be.
Pro Tip: It’s probably better to give out the cards in person since you’ll also get a chance to pitch whatever is on that card in a sentence. Think of a memorable and compelling headline that would immediately pique someone’s interest to read the card further, such as “Use the code on the card for $2 off” or “Win xxx prize when you follow the instructions on the card!”
Ease of implementation: 🔴🔴⭕️⭕️⭕️
There’s literally no way of ignoring a tent right at the entrance with eye-catching headlines and bright colors (and hopefully someone under the tent engaging with passers-by and handing out freebies). That’s why we think it’s one of the most effective in-venue marketing methods out there.
However, setting up and taking down the tent at every game can be a bit of a hassle. You probably also need someone stationed at the tent throughout the game, engaging with people walking past and handing out promotional materials. Plus, purchasing a tent is definitely going to cost more than printing a few posters. However, we’d highly recommend this for major marketing pushes, such as for a major sponsor’s on-site brand activation.
Pro Tip: One big plus to having a tent is how versatile it can be. Tents don’t just have to be stations for handing out business cards and free swags. In fact, they can serve multiple functions. One such use case is having the tent act as a makeshift concessions window. You can either stock it up with pre-packaged drinks and snacks to take the pressure off your concession lines, or use it as a pickup window where completed orders are brought to the tent and fans can pick up their food from there.
Ease of implementation: 🔴🔴🔴🔴⭕️
They are durable, portable and easy to set up. They’re also big enough to catch plenty of eyeballs. You can use them to display information or even direct traffic to your tent. Either way, this is something we definitely recommend.
A-frames can be a little costly though if you’re a high school with limited budget. However, considering how long these sturdy plastic frames can last, it may well be worth your investment.
Pro Tip: Make sure that the messages on your A-frames are generic enough to stay relevant for a long time (you probably want to use them repeatedly for as long as they last), yet still actionable enough that people can take the desired actions right as they see the A-frames. For example, if you want your fans to download an app, maybe include a scannable QR code so they can download the app right away; or if you want your fans to sign up for an event, include a QR code or Bitly link that makes it easy for them to sign up online within seconds.
Ease of implementation: 🔴🔴🔴🔴⭕️
This is for those who really want to take things up a notch. Want your fans to go through that VIP experience? A floor mat is the way to go. Not only will your fans feel extra special when they step on the mat and feel the cushion under their feet, but also you’ll get a large surface area to promote whatever it is that you want to market to the fans. And you get to be completely creative with it! Be it a big bold statement printed on the mat or an artistically designed trail guiding the fans as they walk up the mat, they'll be guaranteed a memorable experience. And of course, you can use the mat repeatedly for as long as you want, although occasional cleaning may be required especially if the mat will be outdoors exposed to the weather.
The downside is that mats are typically pretty costly. So definitely evaluate your budget and understand whether it’s worth it for your venue.
Pro Tip: One great thing about the mat is that it’s more than just a visual experience. While all in-venue marketing materials are for the goal of getting as many impressions (i.e. the number of times people look at them) as possible, walking on the mat leaves people a sensory experience as well, since the texture of the mat feels different from the hard floor. That means not only you’ll get more impressions by having a mat, but also you’ll get different kinds of impressions as well.