In sponsorship we love a good lanyard. It’s the very symbol of exclusive access, behind the scenes, VIP, back stage – whatever form it takes this simple piece of plastic is much coveted and loved by the happy sponsor and the eager fan.
Although the humble lanyard has been around for many years, perhaps the age of the lanyard is only now upon us. The lanyard was traditionally used to identify the VIP guest and give them a sense of stature. In some cases like Formula 1 it also allows the user to scan the lanyard at the Paddock entrance for exclusive access or it is given out on mass to fans to communicate a promotional message or competition.
But what if the lanyard was the center of the fans experience, enabled by wearable technology and the sponsor.
We are familiar with Nike+ band, Fitbit and Smart Watches that allow us to track our activities, set goals etc. We are also seeing an explosion in the use of wearable technology amongst athletes and teams. This more recent development has opened up huge opportunities for rights holders and sponsors to not only provide vital information to managers and coaches but also to create a myriad of content opportunities for fans to engage with.
The Top Trumps or Topps cards that we loved in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s are being replaced with digital real time data apps that will flood the content hungry fan with more statistics then they can possibly consume. The area of content and wearable technology is being discussed widely but how can this technology improve the fan experience beyond content at the venue?
RFID has been used for several years to engage fans at events. The fan is given a wristband or lanyard upon entry and once they have submitted their details, their interactions are automatically shared on their social media platforms creating a blast radius of promotion for the sponsor. This is a simple and very effective way for the sponsor to engage the fan and use earned media to reach a much wider audience at a relatively low cost.
But RFID is just the beginning and the opportunities for sponsors and fans to interact using wearable technology are endless.
Sponsors should lead and own interactive fan experiences as an innovative differentiator focused on adding value to the fans experience. The whole idea is to work with the rights holder to create a fan experience that is always different and always rewarding.
Why should I leave my house when I can watch the game on a flat screen LED TV with surround sound and all the comforts of home? The experience at the event always need to be better and the sponsor can play a big role in making this happen – as the GAA put it ‘Nothing beats being there’.
We suggest five considerations for the sponsor using wearable technology to engage fans:
Know me, the fan. Who am I? How do I get to the venue? Who do I travel with? What time do I arrive? What do I do when I get there? What are my match day rituals? Where do I go after the event?
Make my day easier and more fun from the start. Travel information, match day event information, offers and incentives all tailored to me based on previous games I have attended. I want to enter the stadium through a fast lane with a simple swipe of my lanyard/Smart Phone/Watch. LED signage or a hologram of my team’s captain welcomes me to the stadium and directs me to where I can check out experiences I haven’t had before at the venue.
Preference matching. From the moment I approach the stadium, the sponsor is offering relevant opportunities to enhance my experience. It’s about timely and relevant information based on a clear understanding me as a fan and my previous habits/interests - discounts and offers, exclusive access, real time match day content.
Arrive earlier and stay longer – The NFL have a long-standing Tailgate party tradition. This turns the match day experience into a daylong event that goes way beyond the action on the pitch. With technology we can create interactive zones to engage with fans and allow them to share that experience with their friends.
Reward repeat attendance. Too often the loyal fan is forgotten with no differentiating experience. These fans are the greatest advocates not only for the team but also potentially for the sponsor. Ticket upgrades, surprise and delight, exclusive experiences - wearable technology again allows the sponsor to identify and reward the most valuable advocates and loyal fans, a critical part of being a genuine sponsor with a genuine interest in engaging fans. It’s about recognizing and rewarding me for being a regular visitor, turning my simple lanyard into a virtual loyalty card.
Of course many of these technologies will be embedded into apps for smartphones and watches but where is the fun in that – the opportunity also exists for sponsors to engage with fans through low cost interactive technology - long live the lanyard!
Daragh Persse Founder The Brand Fans
Daragh Persse is the founder and CEO of The Brand Fans, Ireland’s most experienced sponsorship specialists. They are a full service sponsorship agency that focus on creating long-lasting and valuable relationships between brands and fans.