The biggest date in the global sporting calendar is nearly upon us. Football fans are counting down the days to the kick off of the 2014 World Cup, which begins with host nation Brazil playing Croatia in Sao Paulo on June 12. Almost 17 million people in Britain watched the conclusion of the last tournament, and this year’s event is expected to be just as large, worth an estimated £2 billion to the UK economy, according to the British Retail Consortium. And if small firms haven’t yet launched a World Cup-themed marketing push to get a slice of this sporting action, there are still great opportunities to do so.
Everyone knows that pubs, bars and restaurants screening games should see a huge increase in custom. But other businesses also win, such as those selling television and audio equipment, as viewers upgrade their systems to see every disputed line call and spot every goal. Retailers specialising in sportswear and branded football kit do a brisk trade as supporters rush to wear their national colours. And sales of beer and takeaway fast food go through the roof, as many fans opt to support their teams from their own sofas. Families making a party of the big games also often cause the sales of barbeque items at grocers and DIY stores to surge.
SMEs that haven’t already got a World Cup marketing plan in place may think they’ve missed the boat. But the football madness continues for a month until the final in Rio de Janeiro on July 13, so there are some weeks still to go to get your business on board. And if England beat the odds and make it to the later stages of the tournament, the frenzy of excitement in the country is likely to result in a big swell in business for those that pitch themselves squarely at the football-obsessed market.
One major thing to be aware of is that any unauthorised companies found using the official World Cup logo will fall foul of the governing body FIFA’s rules, and could face a big fine. But there are many ways that small firms can play with football themes to be World Cup winners in the weeks ahead.
Get onside with social.
With Twitter estimating that it already has about 50 million football fans among its users, experts predict that this will be the first real social media World Cup. Google points out that people will watch with their smartphones in hand, searching for player and team information during matches. These wired-up spectators will also be plugged into social media, so SMEs would be wise to engage with them. Sending out congratulatory tweets or Facebook posts when goals are scored is a start. Then, enterprises could tweet up-to-the-minute offers prompted by the football results. Restaurants, which are likely to see trade suffer during play, could use social media to sell dinner deals to punters post match – or morning-after breakfast offers in the case of late games. Investing in delivery apps could be worthwhile for takeaway food businesses that want to exploit the eat-and-watch-at-home market. And really smart marketeers could yield big rewards by showing quick wits. When the lights went out at the 2013 Super Bowl, Oreo, the famous biscuit brand, swiftly tweeted a graphic saying: ‘You can still dunk in the dark’. The tweet went viral, giving the company invaluable publicity. The magic of social media is that a small organisation has the potential to pack as big a punch as a major corporate like Oreo. It’s all about having the idea and getting it out quickly. But, as with all social media efforts, remember who your customers are and what is relevant to them. People are looking for something that’s original and useful, but be careful to retain your authenticity. And integrate your social media efforts with traditional internet channels. Consider putting prominent World Cup-related links from your website’s homepage through to any goods or services that your company offers that may be of relevance to fans. Remember, the event runs over four weeks, so you should update content and pictures as the tournament progresses.
Timing is everything.
The timing of this tournament’s games is likely to have an impact on how people watch, and spend their money. With Brazil being four hours behind the UK, Britons will be watching the games late in the evening in many cases. Consider how this might affect your business and any of its marketing efforts. Could you benefit from the hours in the lead-up to a big match, when many football fans are killing time? This could be an opportunity to lure in customers if you’re running a bar or restaurant, or to make last-minute sales ahead of the game if you’re a retailer. The Government has relaxed licensing hours during the World Cup to reflect the time difference, though only for night matches involving England and, then, only allowing serving up to 1am. Pubs that want to show other late-playing World Cup matches must apply for a temporary event notice (TEN), and even publicans who have yet to get permission to show forthcoming games should still have time to act – just. The deadline for TEN applications is five working days before the event, though some councils have specified ten working days before a game is the acceptable limit.
Goals mean prizes.
Why not think about having a guerrilla sale if England wins a game? You might offer customers money off for a limited period in the spirit of celebration. Hospitality businesses showing the games could go even further and cut the cost of drinks for, say, fifteen minutes after a goal is scored by the home team. Restaurants that have a national theme are perfectly placed to promote themselves if their team wins a game – or even offer fans a commiseration meal deal if they lose. The possibilities are endless, and you can choose how long you run your offer – minutes, a day, or even longer. And don’t forget old-fashioned marketing tools like money-off coupons, and football-themed fliers and menus delivered door-to-door. All of these approaches could win your business valuable extra trade during the coming weeks.
Even enterprises with little obvious link to the football masses can get in on the action. Gyms and personal trainers could take advantage of the sight of all these world-class athletes to offer beer-swilling fans discounts to join up for their services post the World Cup. Electricians could ask customers if their old TV is hindering their enjoyment of the games and offer a last-minute installation of a new surround-sound audio-visual system. Fashion retailers could pitch themselves at supporters buying clothes to look good as they socialise more during the tournament. All it takes is imagination.
And this may come as a shock to the most die-hard football fans, but not everyone will be glued to the beautiful game over the coming month. Retail analysts point out that non-sports fan often take advantage of quieter times on the high street during games to indulge in a bit of shopping. Retailers could target this passing trade with online and in-store promotions. And while more women are watching football than ever before, there are still enough football widows out there for beauticians to market themselves as a place of refuge from the football mania, offering pampering deals during the big matches.
One thing’s for certain, the world will be World Cup crazy in the coming weeks, and it’s a missed opportunity if businesses ignore the event. Allow yourself to catch a little of the football fever and share the excitement with your customers. There’s nothing to lose in trying. Unlike the boys on the pitch.
Image courtesy of hin255 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net