Marketing Physical Activity and Sport in St Vincent and the Grenadines

pr loudspeakersMarketing is a process. It involves planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods, and services (
Marketing has long been associated with business. Indeed it is an integral component of any business.
To succeed in a business the organisation must seek to have a very robust marketing department that coordinates its marketing strategy.
For many years we have heard that sport and physical activity were considered frivolous activity. Indeed in Europe, sporting endeavour was once considered the purview of the wealthy white aristocracy. We saw this in the way in which the English introduced Cricket in the Caribbean. The men would take to the field in their flannels while the women sported their finery. The descendants of the slaves were made to collect the balls struck in the bushes by the plantocracy enjoying an evening of sport.
It is also not surprising to find that in England there was insistence that sport should be amateur. Amateurism was lifted aloft as an ideal and a most effective way of keeping sport as a practice to be engaged in only by the wealthy few.
In Ancient Greece, sport was deemed the stuff in which the wealthy and learned engaged in as a pleasurable undertaking and every effort was made to keep the working classes away from participating.
Today, in stark contrast, sport is characterised by professionalism and it has emerged as one of the fastest growing industries in the world.
Sport today is bug business.
However small the sporting organisation is today it is important therefore that it recognises the tremendous transformation that sport has gone through and the need to ensure that it markets itself to the point of sustainability.
As with other businesses therefore, sporting organisations have to establish equally vibrant and extremely proactive marketing departments pursuing robust marketing strategies for growth, development and sustainability.
Sporting organisations must establish their own brands. This is what would give them their unique identity and distinguishes them from others in the field.
It is unfortunate that many sporting organisations expend little or no effort in establishing their brands. They do so at their peril.
The brand of the organisation must at once capture the quintessence of the sporting organisation so that at once the observer would make the all-important link between the organisation and all that it stands for and with what it involves itself.
All too often sporting organisations rush headlong creating logos that have little meaning and even less appeal.
Brands must have appeal.
The idea of having a brand is so that people in the society would want to associate themselves with the organisation after being attracted to the brand.
An unattractive brand is useless to the future development of an organisation regardless of the field of endeavour in which it is involved. This is the primary reason that organisations pay so much attention to getting the right brand with which to associate themselves and their activities.
A good brand is often the result of extensive research, creative thinking and artistry. Not surprisingly therefore, companies that specialise in the production of brand images for business organisations involve psychologists as much as other scholars because of the importance of gauging how best to link the images with the people who constitute the market.
Sporting organisations must engage themselves in the same process. They must investigate the market and the taste patterns and interests of the people in the determination of precisely what the brand would look like.
The Market & Marketing Strategy
As is the case in regular business, sporting organisations must know precisely who constitute their respective markets.
Each sporting organisation must be certain that it is targeting the right people so it has to do the necessary groundwork.
In St Vincent and the Grenadines, for example, the entire population might be the market for sporting organisations. Football would have to determine which segment of the market it would target to develop the sport. The organisation is looking for players to be attracted to the sport, persons to serve as officials, others to serve as coaches, others to become volunteers in different aspects of the sport and a significant number to be attracted to the game as spectators. The sporting organisation would also want to attract sponsors.
All of the foregoing must therefore be considered when the sporting organisation, in this example, Football, is preparing its marketing strategy.
Persons responsible for marketing in the Football fraternity must therefore take into consideration all of the foregoing and determine where it must place its emphasis on what aspect of the sport if it is to garner maximum impact on the market.
It is not enough for Football to be satisfied with the fact that the sport in popular in the country. While that is the case it does not, in and of itself, mean that there is no need to market the sport and the organisation that leads it.
The popularity of the sport may well be a good point of departure for the leadership of the organisation and offers a platform on which to build a sound marketing strategy to capture the widest possible segment of the market.
The marketing department of the sport organisation must be clear as to what it wants to achieve every step of the way. Goals have to be established and the appropriate objectives flow therefrom.
The brand of the organisation has to be marketed across the entire country, as a first step.
Efforts must be made to ensure that the brand of the sporting organisation is highly visible in the market place so that people become familiar with it and can make appropriate linkages with that and the sport being played.
The Vincentian challenge
In St Vincent and the Grenadines sporting organisations do not invest in marketing. Few even consider marketing an important part of their structure. This is to their undoing.
Too many of the sporting organisations in this country include in their constitutions a public relations officer and hope that somehow that elected individual can work to promote the sport across the country. They then act surprised when, regardless of how good a job the public relations officer does the sport still declines.
Public relations officers in sporting organisations in St Vincent and the Grenadines often see their role as merely sending the odd press release to the various media houses, which may or may not use them. They do not see themselves as marketing anything but rather limit themselves sot passing on information to the media in the hope that it eventually gets to the public.
It is wrong to confuse marketing with promotions.
Promotion is one component of the marketing mix of any organisation serious about its development and sustainability.
Marketing would require a different approach.
In an age of rapid professionalization of sport it is essential that national sports associations take on board marketing expertise.
Sporting organisations in St Vincent and the Grenadines must invest in marketing.
At a marketing workshop hosted by the St Vincent and the Grenadines National Olympic Committee, sponsored by Commonwealth Games Canada, it was agreed that the local market for sport is small and there are several organisations all eager to garner more players, coaches, officials, volunteers and supporters. Participants recognised that overall sport was in decline. Females were dropping out of sport at a earlier age and not returning. Fans were also in decline and there were too few people willing to become coaches and technical officials, to say nothing of people wanting to serve as volunteers.
It was noted that perhaps the best approach to marketing sport in this country would be for the different national sports associations to collaborate in accessing the requisite expertise and forge one major national broad-based marketing thrust. This is however much easier said than done.
National sports associations currently fight for turf and in the process all lose. The realisation of the full potential of any of the national sports associations is unfortunately stymied by the failure of these bodies to pay due attention to what is happening in the rest of the world regarding sport business.
Our sporting organisations must take a good look at themselves and ask some very hard questions:
Do people know we exist and what we do?
Do people recognise our brand? DFoes the brand need changing or is it that we have not engaged in getting the brand in the face of the people, the market?
Do they know what our organisation stands for?
Are we developing as an organisation?
Are we seeing increased or declining membership? Why? In what areas?
Do we have a marketing strategy? Does it need changing? Is it in keeping with contemporary trends?
Do we have a fan base?
Have we lost our fan base?
What can we do to become the leading sporting organisation in St Vincent and the Grenadines?
The foregoing are important and necessary questions for any sporting organisation currently operating in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The time has come for us to professionalise our operations and we must seek appropriate help in doing so. We must first investigate our organisations and establish the problems, the causal factors, before we can commence making the requisite changes.
This country has an abundance of talent but we have not put in place the structures and personnel capable of facilitating the progress that should be taking place.
We can and must do better and sustain it.