Thinking about about planting a flag in the esports space? You’d be smart to.
In just the last few months, non-endemic brands like Nike, State Farm and Coca-Cola have cut sponsorship deals, while new games like Apex Legend are experiencing fan growth rivaling Fortnite’s rise. New tournaments are cropping up, esports-specific arenas are being built and prize pools are reaching the tens of millions. Chances are that as a marketer, you’ve considered entering the space, but there’s a caveat: You can’t just jump in headfirst without studying the community, learning about their passions and interests and, above all, listening to the fans. We polled experts from Major League Gaming, HP, esports organization the Immortals and Overwatch League team New York Excelsior for insights on jumpstarting an esports marketing strategy.
More Esports Insight:
- On the Biz of Esports: A Chat With Xfinity’s Matt Lederer
- New Research Draws Parallels Between Esports and Traditional Sports Fans
1. ACTIVATE LOCALLY
With major esports leagues now moving to a franchise model, brands will have more opportunities to activate against teams at the local level. “Everything is not ‘straight to the Super Bowl,’” says Mike Sepso, co-founder of Major League Gaming. “There are more local activations, more experiential opportunities with teams. That’s going to continue to grow as teams gain more fandom and the infrastructure that’s supporting those teams starts to build. Brands can focus on a local market, get some learnings there and then move into larger national and global campaigns.”
2. BE AUTHENTIC
Establishing an authentic connection with consumers is paramount regardless of the industry. But the esports community in particular will let you know immediately if you’ve missed the mark.
“A consumer has to trust that your brand is going to align with the values of gamers and fans of esports,” says Emily Ketchen, head of Americas marketing at HP. “A brand should identify an authentic voice within the esports space and be able to provide meaningful interactions and connections for consumers.”
Related to that is choosing the right partnership—with a team, a league, or perhaps a player—and maintaining an authentic presence there as well. “Find a partner that really aligns with your brand’s goals, its voice and its audience. Then, through that partner, you can communicate authentically with a new audience and begin to form those relationships within the esports community,” Ketchen says.
Such is the case with HP’s influencer program called the Omen Squad, a group of skilled gamers on Twitch who share tips and tricks to the community while using HP products, effectively funneling Omen’s mission of elevating the game directly to the community.
3. STUDY THE FANS
How to keep a partnership authentic? Ask the community. “The best way to find out who would make a great partner is to ask your players about the products and services that they actually authentically like and use,” Ari Segal, president and ceo of esports organization Immortals, said at the 2018 Esports Business Summit.
Immortals partnered with footwear brand K-Swiss on the …read more