Marketing Lessons Brands Can Learn from Sports Fans

By Madison Taylor
August 28, 2022

The sports world has become a multi-billion dollar industry and is a part of daily life for billions of individuals around the globe. Nearly half of all Americans consider themselves general sports fans, and around 25% consider themselves avid sports fans. This is no accident. Deep psychology goes into sports marketing, fan engagement, and creating lifelong sports fans. In addition, sports marketing can uniquely unite sports fans on a sociological level.

Of course, none of this could be possible with a solid investment in marketing schemes. Sports organizations have seemed to master the art of turning individuals into diehard fans. With this in mind, it might be time for brands to learn marketing lessons from the sports industry’s playbook. This article will highlight how sports marketing teams use the flywheel model to increase fan engagement and how brands can implement the same strategy.

Sports Organizations Use the Flywheel Model to Create Long-Time Fans

The world’s most valuable sports teams like the Dallas Cowboys, New York Yankees, Real Madrid, Golden State Warriors, and Los Angeles Lakers, without a doubt, are backed by several wealthy investors. However, what helps grow these teams and increase their fan engagement are high-level sports marketing strategies. One strategy that is prominent among sports organizations is the marketing flywheel model.

Sports teams focus on creating long-time fans who continue to spread the word about the team, buy merchandise, and support the team overall. This, under the flywheel model, is known as a promoter. Sports can attract new crowds, maintain people’s interests, and create promoters. With the right implementation, brands can take a page out of any organization’s sports marketing playbook.

What Is the Flywheel Model?

So, sports marketing benefits from utilizing the flywheel model, but what does the flywheel model actually entail? Well, the flywheel was created by James Watt. His goal was to create an energy-efficient way of driving a company’s marketing efforts. Overall, the flywheel model is designed to deliver a remarkable customer experience by aligning the entire organization to build unstoppable marketing momentum.

What makes the flywheel model different from other marketing strategies is that the flywheel model does not focus on chasing new customers. Instead, the flywheel model focuses on building happy customers that provide repeat sales and referrals. Once the flywheel starts spinning, more customers are gained, and more sales are generated.

In addition, the flywheel model can be broken down into three primary phases.

  • Attract Phase: In the attract phase, marketers strive to attract visitors with useful content. In this phase, potential customers are still “strangers.” The primary goal in this phase is simply to earn these strangers’ attention, turning them into “prospects.”
  • Engage Phase: In the engage phase, marketers look to turn “prospects” into “customers.” Marketers turn prospects into real customers by making shopping and buying products or services easy. However, the primary goal is establishing relationships, not just closing deals.
  • Delight Phase: In the delight phase, marketers work to transform “customers” into “promoters.” During the delight phase, the primary goal is to help, support, and empower customers to reach their goals. When customers feel valued by a specific brand, they are more likely to promote it.

The flywheel model implementation can be seen in sports marketing strategies. For example, sports organizations run ads promoting games and selling the idea of enjoying the stadium atmosphere to attract “strangers” to the team.

Once the sports organization has gained the attention of these “strangers” and turned them into “prospects,” they begin engaging with them. The goal is to make tickets, jerseys, and team-related items readily available to “prospects” with the hope that a strong enough relationship has been built with the team that they will purchase items and become a customer.

Finally, sports organizations work to maintain the interest of their new customers, transforming customers into strong “promoters” of the team. The ultimate goal of this sports marketing scheme is to increase fan engagement and create fans that continually promote the team.

How Marketers Can Take a Play Out of Any Sports Organization’s Playbook

The flywheel model works well for many sports organizations, so how can brands take a play of the flywheel marketing playbook? Brands can easily implement the same flywheel model phases into their marketing schemes that major sports organizations like the Warriors and Lakers do.

  • Attract Phase: In the attract phase, marketers can attract new visitors to their brand through content marketing, search engine optimization, social media marketing, social selling, targeted paid advertising, or conversion rate optimization.
  • Engage Phase: In the engage phase, marketers can begin focusing on establishing relationships with new prospects through email personalization, multichannel communication, or try before buying programs. The goal is to build a strong enough relationship with a prospect that they are willing to make a purchase with the brand and become a real customer.
  • Delight Phase: In the delight phase, marketers begin the process of empowering customers to reach their goals. During this process, it’s essential to remember that customer success is brand success. When customers feel helped and supported by a brand, they are much more likely to become lifelong brand promoters. Brands can often transform customers into promoters through customer feedback surveys, proactive customer service, or loyalty programs.

The flywheel model has the potential to help grow any brand. With that in mind, it might just be time to take a play out of the sports world and begin implementing the flywheel model into your brand’s next marketing scheme.