Q&A with Mike Berger, Founder at Berger Sports Marketing

4/14/15

Mike Berger

Q. What is your background in sports marketing and media?

A. For 15 years I worked for various sports properties including The Baltimore Orioles, Baltimore Blast, Maryland Terrapins, Ravens Radio Network, and Tennessee Titans Radio Network. In those roles it was my responsibility to build successful sports marketing/media campaigns for businesses. I founded Berger Sports Marketing in 2010.

Q. What do you see as the biggest changes in the sports marketing landscape in the Baltimore and Washington area over the past 10 years?

A. Sports teams are like the stock market. Prices can fluctuate based on the team’s success or lack thereof, and other factors such as management changes, general economic conditions and competition. It’s important to stay connected with our clients’ potential partners and find opportunities to outperform the deal price. Of course with social media and the web, it’s not just buying a stadium sign and tickets anymore. Businesses expect ROI, and teams have been forced to change the way they approach building sponsorships.

Q. What challenges do companies who want to enter the sports sponsorship and marketing arena face in 2015?

A. Most companies can’t sponsor every team, so it’s always about choosing partners strategically; seasonality, price, customer habits, media availability, and geography are just a few of the factors. In addition, Baltimore/Washington is often described as a “market” but in reality each of these cities is a market. The fan bases are different in many ways, and companies must engage multiple teams in order to get results across the region.

Q. How do companies involved in sports media and marketing determine an ROI?

A. Different companies have different goals. Some look for increased web traffic and/or social media engagement. Others will measure ROI in store traffic and sales. B2B companies often utilize sports marketing to strengthen and create client relationships through hospitality, so ROI is measured by new accounts, renewals, and up-sells. It’s vital to define objectives before a campaign is established. You can’t define success unless you know what you’re looking for.

Q. What changes or trends do you see in sports sponsorship that will affect your clients and how they advertise and market?

A. Fans are connecting with teams in so many different ways, it can be challenging to know which platforms to use in reaching them. Companies can use in-venue messaging, TV, radio, social media, internet, etc. The most successful sports marketers constantly adapt to business and media trends, changing their mix to stay engaged with their customers. This is a big part of what BSM does, helping clients understand the importance of being “nimble” in an ever-changing environment.

Q. How do you recommend combining sports sponsorship and marketing with the traditional advertising campaign for a company that uses both?

A. Sports sponsorships are far more valuable when they are leveraged outside of the stadium/venue and woven into a company’s brand and culture. I often advise my clients to build sponsorships which contain assets you can “take with you”, such as team logo usage rights, “official partner” status, or an endorsement deal with a player or coach. This is especially true for retailers. While you can reach a teams’ most loyal fans in-venue and on their TV broadcast, this represents a fraction of the team’s total drawing power. There are tens of thousands of people in Baltimore who will not attend or watch a single Orioles or Ravens game this year, yet are just as likely to be influenced by a sports-related promotion. Even if they’re not “fans”, the teams have credibility in their households and workplaces. Casual fans are much more prevalent than “die-hards”, and smart marketers realize they can influence this base through sports-based social media and traditional advertising.

Q. Describe what Berger Sports Marketing does for clients.

A. BSM works with clients to develop customized sports marketing & media campaigns, working with sports teams, TV networks, radio stations, and other media outlets. The campaigns we develop have a high degree of success because a) we work with these teams/properties on behalf of multiple clients, giving us buying power and long-term relationships, b) they are completely tailored to fit our clients’ needs, which reduces/eliminates waste, and c) we engage a wide consideration set, creating steep competition for our clients’ dollars. People often ask me “should I do a sponsorship with {insert team here}”. The answer, regardless of the team, is that it depends. There’s a science behind sports sponsorship…if you want results, you need the right formula.

Connect with Mike on LinkedIn.

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