Sports clubs have a large following that presents a business opportunity for fitness companies. A digital marketing strategy for this business would entail engaging fans through an application that provides news about their favorite teams and a feature that supports workout. The competitive environment in the fitness industry is fierce. Clients have a range of options, including home workout videos, gyms, and personal trainers. Thus, the competitive landscape and changing customer preferences call for a digital marketing strategy. The increased use of smartphones and applications coupled with improved internet connectivity has made sports enthusiasts ‘hyper-digitized’ (Lawrence and Crawford, 2018). Soccer clubs are popular brands that seek to engage their fans in their football activities, presenting a lucrative target market for a new entrant. This paper reviews the operations of a potential competitor of a sports fitness brand and proposes a digital marketing strategy using a buyer persona spring and its implementation approach.
Organization and Its Business Model
McSport is an Ireland-based major supplier of sport and fitness products to gym facilities and football clubs globally. The company offers professional support and services ranging from fitness center design to delivery and equipment installation for strength and resistance training. The primary clients of McSport include gyms, sports teams, hotels, homes, and colleges/schools (McSport, 2020a). Among its core operations is the gym servicing division. Through this unit, McSport offers repair on installed facilities and maintenance services for clients such as Cybex and Life Fitness (McSport, 2020b). The firm also provides gym equipment installation of treadmills and other fitness gear. Its technicians can deliver, assemble, install, and test all fitness tools. Other components of its operations are fitting interiors (locker rooms), provision of custom-branded equipment, and tournament management.
McSport’s business model is centered on providing tailor-made services to professional sports teams. It supplies equipment designed to match the requirements of the client – school, soccer club, gym, or hotel. The firm positions itself as a professional service provider that supplies varied products for fitness and wellbeing. Its competitive strength lies in a dynamic and expert workforce. McSport’s philosophy is founded in five business values: a spirit of service, responsiveness towards the needs of professional sports teams, continuous knowledge acquisition and application, integrity and honesty to clients, and quality (McSport, 2020a). It also supplies equipment from the major fitness brands globally.
New Digital Marketing Strategy
McSport works with football clubs in friendly match management by providing a host of professional services, including hospitality, commercialization of media rights, and player training. The company focuses on increasing sales from rights allocated to television networks globally and internet platforms (Lawrence and Crawford, 2018). Therefore, McSport’s marketing strategy centers on tournament sponsorships, kit advertising, and distribution of sports content through the media. Utilizing social media to engage football fans on fitness provides an opportunity to expand its market share in the gym equipment segment.
The new digital marketing strategy is proposed for McSport that will require creating social media app (e-sport) to harness the support fans have for their teams and promote its equipment and services. Partnerships with soccer sides will create a buzz around fitness with twofold aims. First, to engage fans through social media pages, thereby creating a brand community, and second, increase fitness awareness, which will translate into more sales for its home workout equipment and services. In this way, the firm will build a digital brand community, providing market opportunities for its products.
The e-sport will include services and features that allow football fans to stay abreast of the latest news in their club, real-time scores, rankings, events, and videos. The type of products that McSport will market through this app will include sporting goods (equipment, apparel, footwear, and wearable devices) and fitness facilities and instruction, which are in high demand in this industry (Sports and Fitness Industry Association, 2019). This digital marketing strategy will also benefit the firm’s partners – media companies, telecommunication companies, and sports associations – through advertising and royalty revenue.
Understanding your target audience is critical to making informed marketing decisions. Buyer personas are a key component of the online sales strategy of most organizations. According to Heinze et al. (2017), nowadays, firms publish content on their platforms to build target audiences and engage current customers. This shift from product- to customer-oriented marketing turns loyal clients into advocates who promote the brand through their social media, as a competitive advantage. Creating buyer personas will require surveys of customers (sports fans) or internal stakeholders – football clubs (Cruz and Karatzas, 2019). It provides information useful for marketing communications with team supporters through their social media. A buyer persona for McSport’s new digital marketing strategy is outlined below.
Kim Rodgers is a 36-year-old male from London. He holds a season ticket for Chelsea, his favorite team that plays in the English premier league. As an avid football fan, Kim keeps abreast of the activities and programs of the club. He attends most away and home games with his wife and friends. Kim works as a store manager.
Kim relies on TV, twitter, Facebook, and YouTube for the latest club news. He interacts with friends and family through Facebook and Instagram. Kim uses LinkedIn to maintain his professional network and receive updates on management training programs.
Kim is a fitness enthusiast. He used to attend aerobic sessions at a local gym and jog frequently. However, due to the demanding nature of his work means, he has less time to work out. As a result, Kim has gained weight in recent months. He has thought about starting a home gym but he does not know the equipment to purchase.
He understands the value of being physically fit. His friend recently succumbed to a heart attack. He knows that a home gym will enable him to work out regularly and lose weight. Kim also desires to interact more with his favorite club and connect with football personalities.
List of Words
The key identifiers of Kim include sporty, loves football, and fitness enthusiast. He loves to run in a park and enjoys swimming. Kim is an extrovert who likes company. Consistent with this buyer persona, McSport will differentiate itself by using soccer- or fitness-related keywords. These are the words often used in social media pages of football fans and wellness blogs. They include:
- Physically fit
- Aerobic exercise
- Fitness studio
Kim would want official messages from Chelsea and players. He also desires a fitness competition with friends to win autographed jackets or balls. Personalized messages about football training will make him more active and engaged.
Business Model Canvas
A business model describes a firm’s plan for successful operations. It comprises of nine core elements: customer segments, value proposition, channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, main assets, core activities, partnerships, and cost structure (Heinze et al., 2017). These components can be fitted in a business model canvas (BMC) to depict the firm’s key business drivers. The BMC for McSport’s e-sport app is presented below.
Buyer Persona Spring
After creating a buyer persona, an organization must develop strategic steps to reach the target audience. The buyer persona spring gives a suitable strategy for this purpose. It comprises “three central loops: channels, content, and data” that form a spring (Heinze et al., 2017, p. 78). Proper use of these components will make the loops tighter, getting the firm closer to the consumer.
For McSport, the buyer persona outlined previously is that of a football fan (Kim Rodgers). He may want to use e-sport to attain his fitness goals and keep abreast of team news and activities. A message of fitness will be conveyed through appropriate channels to attract this “buyer persona and tighten the spring” to McSport (Buyer Persona Institute, 2017, p. 4). The relationships between the components of a buyer persona spring are bidirectional and iterative. Thus, each strategy must be coherent with subsequent steps to achieve success. Proper alignment of channels, content, and data and the specific tactics used at each step will ensure that the digital strategy is relevant to the buyer persona (Heinze et al., 2017). The sub-strategies for conveying a strong brand identity are described below.
The e-sport app will seek to harness the social capital in football fan base to increase demand for fitness products. The objectives are to engage team supporters, creating a brand community that will buy McSport’s equipment and apparel and to increase fitness awareness to stimulate demand for home workout tools and services. The application will not only provide a platform for teams to engage their fans but also encourage behavior change through physical exercises.
The core audience that is the focus of the digital marketing strategy is avid club fans. These are the potential customers of McSport’s gym products and services. From the buyer persona outline above, the specific needs of the target audience are fitness equipment and support (Heinze et al., 2017). Through association with football clubs, McSport has distinguished itself as a leading brand in sports fitness services. Thus, by providing a platform for engaging fans (buyer persona), the firm will expand its market beyond football clubs.
This sub-strategy separates the dissemination channels from the content generated by the firm. It helps address systems beyond the control of the organization (Kotler, Kartajaya, and Setiawan, 2016). For McSport, official messages (centered on fitness) from Chelsea, Kim’s favorite team, will be useful in promoting the brand. Conversations between fans and club managers will create a community conscious of individual fitness and wellbeing. A competition to win McSport-branded gym equipment, apparel, and footwear will increase engagement and brand awareness among team supporters. Personalized messages about McSport’s fitness products can be sent to Kim for sharing in his LinkedIn network.
For McSport, Facebook and Twitter will be useful platforms for reaching football fans like Kim. Through these channels, the firm can promote downloads of the e-sport app that is customized to each club to provide team news, tournament rankings, and discussions on fitness. The app will include links to McSport’s website, a resource with gym products and services, and team-branded equipment for fans. LinkedIn will be useful for marketing to decision-makers in Kim’s professional network who may want to build office gyms. Printed promotional materials, including placards, banners, and brochures will be used during live games to reach more fans.
This sub-strategy informs the adjustments that are made to the channels and content to improve the overall strategy. The e-sport app will include a social media analytics feature to collect and analyze data on user traffic to the sites. Additionally, online surveys will help obtain information about the customer’s fitness needs and preferences. The fans’ interactions with the club on social media will also provide data on brand perception.
Milestones for Strategy Implementation
- Achieve 500 e-sport app downloads in the first three months of its launch.
- Create social media pages and increase user traffic to these sites by 10% within the first quarter.
- Make connections with managers of five football clubs interested in the app to engage their fans within the first month.
- Realize earnings of $5,000 from the sale of fitness equipment to users within the first three months.
This tool will give an action plan for implementing the new digital strategy for McSport. A Gantt Chart specifies the strategic tactics to be undertaken and the time frame for each activity (Pauwels, Aksehirli, and Lackman, 2016). Thus, it illustrates the chain of activities and their implementation timelines from start to finish. Using a Gantt Chart, the tasks that will be handled by McSport’s through the different digital platforms and their timing are given below. The development costs of the social media app (e-sport) and content are included in the appendix.
|Task name||Activity||Start date||End date||Duration (days)|
|Create a Twitter business profile||1/6/2020||26/7/2020||56|
|Creating a company profile||1/6/2020||3/6/2020||3|
|Following influential footballers||6/6/2020||9/6/2020||4|
|Connecting with club managers||10/6/2020||14/06/2020||5|
|Sharing Facebook posts||15/06/2020||11|
|Retweeting and replying to tweets on fitness||15/06/2020||11|
|Tweeting three times daily, five times a week||15/06/2020||11|
|Create a Facebook business profile||15/06/2020||26/7/2020||41|
|Creating a company profile||15/06/2020||22/06/2020||8|
|Requesting users to write reviews about McSport brands||23/06/2020||26/06/2020||4|
|Follow and like influential Facebook pages||27/06/2020||8|
|Post pictures and videos weekly||27/06/2020||7|
|Post news articles about McSport||27/06/2020||7|
|Provide useful links on fitness||27/06/2020||7|
|Create a LinkedIn business profile||Creating a company profile||27/06/2020||26/07/2020||29|
|Connecting with clients||27/06/2020||30/06/2020||4|
|Requesting clients to write recommendations||1/7/2020||3/7/2020||3|
|Following potential clients (football fans)||4/7/2020||16/07/2020||13|
As illustrated in the Gantt chart, the new digital marketing strategy will include three social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Since McSport already has a website, links to these sites and information about customized fitness products for supporters of specific football teams will be added.
A LinkedIn business profile will be designed to link soccer fans and club managers and update them on McSport’s product offers. This platform will also be useful in conveying tailored messages to individuals. Following potential customers and influential people in soccer will give the profile a professional outlook. Asking football analysts and expert trainers to write recommendations about McSport’s fitness products and services and relevant content will be an important strategy in the marketing efforts.
Twitter and Facebook accounts will also be set up to complement the LinkedIn profile. These platforms are easy to create and manage. However, efforts will be made to ensure that the content posted is relevant. The primary tasks will include sharing posts and pictures of the fitness equipment and workout videos. The Facebook page will also include questionnaires to collect data on customer satisfaction with the products and address concerns. This site will also help McSport provide professional advice to football fans and clubs on training and wellbeing. Twitting three times a day, Monday through Friday, will ensure that users are updated on latest team news and fitness products.
Certain risks will impact the digital marketing strategy for McSport. Risk assessment entails an in-depth examination of all threats that an organization faces and ways to mitigate their effect (Heinze et al., 2017). The digital marketing strategy proposed will use social media to engage football fans on fitness issues. Assessment of relevant risks McSport may encounter as well as a measurement of their probability and impact is critical.
McSport is a reputed supplier of fitness equipment and services. A digital marketing strategy has potential reputation risks. According to Pinto and Yagnik (2017), public relations issues may emerge from using social media, but it all depends on usage. Poorly crafted or biased statements, insensitive comments, and content on football politics will hurt McSport. Monitoring all social media activity using third-party systems such as BrandProtect can help mitigate the reputational risk (Panasenko et al., 2018). The goal is to ensure compliance with established guidelines and policies. However, the impact and likelihood of occurrence of this risk are considered high due to the competitive nature of sports.
Disclosure of Confidential User Information
Risk may arise when an employee inadvertently releases confidential customer information to the public through social media platforms. This vulnerability implies limited training and knowledge of data security and information safeguards (Saura, Palos-Sánchez, and Cerdá Suárez, 2017). A rogue employee can also deliberately release private information. Establishment of workflows and staff guidelines on social media use can help McSport mitigate this risk. Additional control measures include information security training and a code of ethics policy. With proper training and adequate safeguards, the impact of this risk on McSport’s reputation and the probability of occurring can be considered low.
Public Relations Problems
Negative press and consumer complaints about the quality of products or services pose a risk to the firm. A disgruntled customer or employee can criticize McSport through social media using pseudonyms. Inappropriate content posted by the staff from non-company accounts may also lead to public relations challenges (Jayaram, Manrai, and Manrai, 2015). End-user information policy and employee code of conduct can help mitigate these risks. The financial impact of public relations challenges on McSport is categorized as high due to a potential decline in sales. Similarly, the probability of their occurrence is significant.
Social Media Outage
Malware and viruses can limit the customers’ access to the company’s social media platforms. Additionally, breaching social media policies will result in outages. The resulting infrequent activity will hurt the brand. Therefore, preventing malware from infecting social media pages using anti-malware software is an important mitigation approach. The impact of the risk from social media outage on the digital marketing strategy is moderate. However, the probability of downtimes occurring is low.
Another potential threat to McSport’s new digital marketing strategy includes court cases for improper termination of staff accused of inappropriate use of social media. Customers whose confidential data has been released through various platforms may also seek compensation. Thus, the human resources department should address these risks through effective employee pre-screening and information security training. With these measures, the impact of lawsuits can be minimized. For the same reasons, the probability of lawsuits against McSport is low.
Social Media Attack of Customers
Hijacked user accounts pose a risk to marketing through social media. Inadequate password policy and limited understanding of online security can make platforms vulnerable to hackers. Cybercriminals can use these accounts to attack fans of rival teams and their followers. Social media monitoring and information security training can help manage these risks. Therefore, the impact of social media attacks on McSport is considered low. However, the rising cases of cybercrime mean that this risk is highly probable.
Inadequate customer awareness by McSport staff is a potential risk to this strategy. Followers of the organization’s social media platforms may lose interest in the company’s products because of untimely, infrequent, or irrelevant content (Chaffey and Ellis-Chadwick, 2016). Additionally, delays in responding to customer posts or requests on social media can reduce traffic to those sites, which will affect sales. Therefore, the impact of these threats on performance and the likelihood of their occurrence are high. For McSport, creating a team dedicated to updating content and restricting the number of staff members active on these platforms will reduce the risk to organizational performance and productivity.
The sports and fitness industry has many players. Rival companies can steal innovations and intellectual capital of McSport’s platforms to improve their products (Guo et al., 2017). Such action will hurt the firm’s research and development function and lead to loss of sales. Therefore, the impact of this risk is considered high. However, social media monitoring and end-user information policies can help mitigate the risk from competitors and reduce the likelihood of its occurrence.
McSport primarily focuses on supplying fitness equipment to sports teams and institutions. The proposed digital marketing strategy (e-sport app integrated with social media) provides opportunities for soccer clubs to engage their fans while creating demand for home workout products and services. The buyer persona outlined above shows that soccer enthusiasts value physical fitness and wellbeing. Therefore, McSport can use this strategy to exploit new market opportunities and expand its market share.
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Social media app development costs
|Social media content – videos, pictures||$15,000|
|Staff (professional support service)||$14,000|