How to Nail Strategic Marketing During the Olympics

Editor’s note: As you make your marketing plans for the Olympics, please keep in mind the Olympic committee’s updated guidelines for promotion—they’re fairly strict. Find good info here.

The summer Olympics happen every four years, but preparation for the athletes competing is a full-time job–literally. These athletes have dedicated their entire lives to their training, with absolutely no guarantee that they’ll make it past the trials.

And yet, a few talented athletes do (and did, just a couple of weeks ago), and they’re preparing right this minute to take the stage at the greatest performance of athletic ability in the world.

So what now? How do they ensure, over the next couple of weeks, that they’re in the right mindset? That their body is well-rested and ready to go? That they’re setting themselves up for international world-wide recognition?

Sound familiar?

Officially or unofficially, your brand has committed to being a part of the Olympics. You’ve worked day-in and day-out, donating blood, sweat, and tears (paper cuts and typing cramps are legitimate battle wounds) to prepare the perfect Olympics-geared campaign.

Your strategy is locked, and your game plans established. But as you know, life–especially in the world of sports–is unpredictable. After all, it was the New York Giants that beat the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLII thanks to David Tyree’s improbable “helmet catch”; it was the Boston Red Sox who won the 2004 World Series, finally breaking the infamous Curse of the Bambino; and it was Rulon Gardner, an ‘unknown’ Wyoming farm boy, who beat the Russian, 15-time international titlist Aleksandr Karelin in the superheavyweight wrestling finals of the 2000 Olympics in Athens.

Preparing for the unknown is a bit of an oxymoron–but an important one.

While you can’t predict the next Miracle on Ice , you can prepare yourself to react to real-time events with relevance, engage in innovative ways, and get ahead of those jaw-dropping moments to ensure a smooth and successful execution.

As a global event, you know as well as I do that it’s not going to be difficult to find a way to insert your brand/brand voice into the Olympics-focused conversation. But whatever you do, you must make sure you brand’s engagement with the games (and its fans) is as relevant and impactful as it can be.

Here are three ways you can ensure this:

Exercise Full Mission Control

Establish an Olympics Command Center to keep track of what and who people are talking about, and engaging with. Understand how your owned content is performing and track your brand mentions to keep a minute-by-minute pulse on your campaign’s success.

Set up topics in Intelligence and use the predictive graph to be the first to know when a topic or event begins trending, and understand if the trend is poised to go viral (or peter-out).

While technology is vital in increasing team efficiency and allowing cross-team (or inter-org) communication, there’s still a great deal to be said about the value of face-to-face interactions. In fact, in the software dev world, there’s an entire methodology dedicated to executing on this theory.

Be strategic about who you engage with, and when

Look at engagement with recent related events–the Olympic Trials, for example–to get a feel for which athletes and sports are most anticipated by your target audience (and, therefore, which you should be keeping tabs on).

To tell you to monitor Olympics-related conversation during the games may seem #basic, but doing so will not only help you stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest Olympics topics: it will help to identify meaningful ways to participate.

Hour-by-hour trend-line of Olympics conversation volume

For example, while Usain Bolt—who also just happened to be gifted his own set of #boltmojis– is planning to retire after this summer’s Olympics, your audience may be more interested in Michael Phelps’ impending exit from the swimming world. Or perhaps one of the other 10 olympians planning to retire at some point mid-August?

Creating a branded experience that ranks the most talked about forthcoming retirements, or even one that polls fans on how these athletes should spend their retirement, may increase engagement and site views more than an experience that simply tracks olympics conversation by country or sport.

Make your brand’s site an Olympics destination

It’s no secret the Olympics generate unparalleled global conversation: an opportunity marketers can either capitalize on, or totally fumble. The show-stoppers in the past have been social hubs, but even those aren’t all that unique anymore. It’s what encompasses these social hubs– the data they display–that make them interesting.

Think about what makes your brand unique–and turn it into a 360-degree experience.

The goal of all of these initiatives is to make your brand synonymous with the Olympics–not to take it over.

By following these three steps, you can be confident you’re walking into this year’s Olympics opening ceremony with your best (well-stretched and, of course, well-dressed) foot forward.

July 21, 2016
The Magic and Medicine of Social Data
July 27, 2016
5 Steps to Proving the Value of Social
Alexis is a Product Marketing Manager, leading go-to-market strategy and developing campaigns for the Spredfast platform. One of the few (but very proud) native Austinites, Alexis is a die-hard longhorn fan and firmly believes mashed potatoes do NOT belong in Breakfast Tacos (don’t even get her started on the breakfast “wrap”). In her free time, Alexis enjoys live music, adventuring and tweeting about all things sports and social.