Sports Marketing’s Magic Bullet: Creating ‘Two Percent Moments’

In his October marketing sports post, SLRG president Jon Last, speaks to a customer centric approach in creating meaningful and memorable activations.

A mentor and former boss once framed a wonderful metaphor in urging me and others in our organization to strive for greatness. He spoke of creating “two percent moments.” It’s something that all sports marketers should think about in designing the most impactful activations and touch points, but, as I’ll elaborate on, only if done in a pragmatic and customer-centric way.

So, what is a two percent moment? The analogy begins with the realization that if Hollywood were to create a film about our lives, only about 2% of it would make it to the final release. The balance would be relegated to the cutting room floor, lost, forgotten or obscured by other events that supersede it. In essence, these are the times that stand out, those special occasions that become not just significant memories, but part of the fabric that frames the meaning of our lives.

One might maintain that it is too ambitious to seek the creation of these two percent moments in each of the events, experiences and activations that we develop as marketers. We’ve all rolled our eyes when a client or colleague pushes us to bring forward the proverbial “BIG IDEA” that “truly moves the brand forward.” But as a sports marketing researcher, I might suggest that many brands or properties often fail to even properly consider what might actually constitute a two percent moment.

A large part of that problem lies in the incorrect framing of who the “big idea” is really designed for. In other words, it seems that our sports marketing programs are too often predicated on keeping up with the Joneses rather than doing something that will really resonate with the target consumer. For example, we jump to the conclusion that we must have a digital or social media component that is even more “cool for school” than those being rolled out by the competition, without regard for whether the customer really wants or would value it.

I recall back when QR codes were the rage du jour that a rather traditional brand that I was working with rushed out to include these as components in all of its content and advertising without regard for the reality that our research showed that a fraction of the customer base had any knowledge of how to use them, let alone any desire to learn. So, these faux big ideas can risk leaving brands as being perceived by the target as patronizing or lacking authenticity. It’s akin to metaphors of a 40-something doing Jello shots or crowd surfing. Unfortunately, that train has already left the station.

So, in essence, we create what we think is dynamic and big for the brand or property, without understanding what is truly meaningful to the consumer. “Let’s build out a really cool interactive space at our event, where everyone can snapchat or tweet or instagram what everyone is experiencing” fails to recognize that people still need to experience something meaningful for the moment that gets tweeted or snapchatted to have enduring value.

We often use a mix of projective techniques in our qualitative research to better identify and understand what will resonate in a consumers’ sports experience. For example, I’ll ask and probe a respondent to relay some of their most poignant memories surrounding a particular team or sport. It may seem intuitive that so many of these most resonant moments revolve around truly unique experiences that bring them a more intimate and insider’s look at the team or the venue; things that make them feel recognized, validated and special; but often also shared face to face with other meaningful people in their lives, and absent distractions.

As sports marketers, we benefit from unique access to a multitude of touch points that can readily facilitate two percent moments for the fans that we seek to bond with. That is an incredibly powerful differentiator that gives us competitive advantage over other marketing mix elements. But we need to keep our ears and eyes focused on what really compels the customer. Only after we are armed with that insight, are we actually at a place where we can build the bridge between customer needs, the property and the activating brand. It’s the unique confluence of those elements that create two percent moments for us in our careers, and more importantly, for the people that we are paid to connect with.