TicketManager | Sports Marketing’s Micro Failures Are No Small Problem

There is an enormous amount of sports marketing activity that deserves to be celebrated, whether it is individual brands and rights holders teaming up on creative activations to engage audiences in new and relevant ways, or broader developments across sports and industries that are introducing new ways to approach tapping into the power of fandom and live experiences.

Yet there remain too many examples of practices that continue to hold the field back from living up to its full potential. All of us who are sports marketing professionals experience this on a regular basis. They form the basis of many private conversations between us that begin, “I shouldn’t be surprised, but…”

Just within the past week I experienced two such instances, neither of which were first-time occurrences.

The first was a conversation regarding a third-party solution that had been proposed for an agency’s brand client. The service provider and agency personnel agreed that what was being offered would likely be of real value to improving the performance of the brand’s sports partnership program.

But—and stop me if you’ve heard this before—the agency refused to present the concept to its client until and unless it could determine a way to be significantly compensated if the brand adopted the solution. As it stands now, there is a standstill and the client isn’t even aware of the discussion.

The second occurrence was my discovery that a client was not receiving what I consider to be a critical yet easy-to-provide benefit that is part of its sponsorship agreement with a sports property.

When I raised the issue with one of my contacts at the brand, I did not receive the indignant response I expected. Instead, I was told the company, a B2B marketer, was aware of the situation, was resigned to the fact that it would not be getting the deliverable and was working around the issue and using its own people to do the work that is supposed to be carried out by staff at the rights holder, according to the contract.

Individually, such failures to act in the best interest of a client or partner are easy to shrug off. But they are not isolated incidents, and that is where small acts of negligence become large problems for all us. While they are thankfully not the norm in our business, they happen more than enough to be ignored.

Previous posts, most recently this one, have addressed multiple reasons why sports marketing and sponsorship is often siloed and not given proper respect within corporations. Not meeting minimum standards of professionalism certainly adds to the list.

But beyond the industry’s reputation, multiple micro failures also have a negative impact on the individuals working in the field.

I have spoken to many talented sports marketing practitioners recently who have expressed frustration and defeat over their best efforts coming to nothing. Worse, many say these feelings are causing them to consider leaving the field in hopes of forging careers in areas where acceptance of less than the highest standards is not the norm.

I don’t have the solution to immediately turning this situation around except to urge all of us to be better if we want to see our chosen profession survive and thrive.