When it comes to the business of sports, it may seem like a world that doesn’t need to put in much work in order to gain popularity or media attention; however, you’d be surprised just much strategy truly goes into sports marketing—particularly basketball marketing. Not only is it important to promote the game itself, but basketball’s ultimate success depends on the ability to connect the fans to the players and vice versa. By establishing personal connections, fans and players both become more emotionally attached to their teams and to the game as a whole. The NBA also uses attraction marketing to draw in the fans. This emotion leads to action, which in turn leads to sales—or maybe even the development of the next great basketball superstar.
For many of us, the area that you’re from can play a huge role in determining what team you decide to support—whether that be an NBA or college team. Because of this fact, many organizations, both professional and collegiate, will promote a strong push towards community engagement. By establishing fan support throughout the community the team’s following will not only increase, but the organization will be able to sell tickets and fill seats; therefore not only leading to more ticket sales, but also increased sales in merchandise and concessions. Once an organization’s marketing has created a strong enough bond between a fan and a team, that fan will generally become a fan for life—and potentially even a season ticket holder.
While support for an entire team is crucial, support for an individual player can be even more impactful when it comes to the world of sports marketing. As many fans know, it’s rare to find a player that does not move around from one team to another throughout the course of their career. This causes many fans to change their preference on what team they support merely based on what team their favorite player happens to play for at the time. An example of this could be seen when Michael Jordan moved from the Chicago Bulls to the Washington Wizards, or when LeBron James moved from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Miami Heat, and then back to the Cavaliers—as a result, the fans of both of these athletes moved their support to the new teams. This is just one example of how powerful the link between fans and players can be. Not only will fans support the player and their team, but also their brands—which leads us into our next point.
Air Jordan, Kobe Elite, LeBron Soldier, KD, Jordan Melo, and the list goes on. These are just some of the many brand names that fans may recognize that are based on one of the NBA’s star players. After reaching a certain level of success in their careers, it’s possible and very common for players like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony (just to name a few) to earn sponsorship deals for shoes, clothing or other promotional items. Their career success and level of stardom reaches a point when they gain such a strong fan base that are willing to buy these sponsored items just because their name is on it. At this point, it’s not about the clothing or the shoe design—the decision to buy is solely based on what the item symbolizes. And this shows the true power behind basketball marketing.