Careers in Sports Marketing - How Soft Skills Help You Win Big
The world of marketing is ever-evolving.
Despite its rapidly changing environment, one factor always remains at heart: people.
People make up the wide target audiences and consumers, who are at the core of any marketing function. They also make up the marketeers themselves, who strive to deliver value and meet the needs of consumers.
In this feature we analyse some of the most crucial skills behind understanding people and how the ability to harness these skills can lead to a successful career in sports marketing.
What are soft skills?
The terms ‘soft skills’ and ‘hard skills’ are frequently used in recruiting and personal development situations. Unlike a lot of buzzwords, the phrases are easy to understand and apply to personal contexts.
Soft skills are interpersonal abilities, often related to how you work, including character traits such as listening, adaptability and delegation. The opposite are hard skills, which relate to technical abilities such as speaking a foreign language, knowing a particular computer software programme or copy writing.
Simply put, hard skills are what you do and soft skills are how you do it.
Similar to any other industry, sports marketing relies on both hard and soft skills. However, due to sport’s emotional and global appeal, soft skills are particularly pivotal, as they provide a fundamental foundation for people within the industry to connect, communicate and collaborate.
The following five soft skills can provide the base for a beneficial future in the industry.
Being able to communicate effectively is a prerequisite for any job today. However, communication as a soft skill stretches far beyond being able to effectively engage with colleagues through verbal and written settings.
More than just a dialogue, communication plays a crucial part in any marketing function as it operates as a tool to understand the target audience, clients and colleagues. The understanding element within communication is built on being able to effectively listen and engage with the audience.
In sports, marketeers’ interactions with the target audience is often limited, therefore it’s crucial to seek out colleagues who are in constant communication with customers, such as sales representatives, to gain a better understanding.
Furthermore, a key element of being able to effectively communicate is to understand the channels that key stakeholders use when communicating. Familiarising yourself with the recipient’s most used channels can help you boost communication patterns.
As well as being able to effectively communicate with clients and colleagues, it’s crucial to be able to work together through collaborative partnerships.
The sports marketing industry provides a particularly ample arena to exercise collaborative skills, as businesses, sports organisations, athletes and agencies within the industry work on a global scale, engaging key stakeholders with wide and varied cultural backgrounds.
Being able to adapt to these different circumstances and norms can be crucial in maintaining positive long-term relationships. If you are looking to grow your own career, ensure that you have taken the time to understand a stakeholder’s background and needs to ensure a fruitful collaboration.
Project management is all about being able to zoom in and zoom out.
This means that a good project manager needs to be able to work across multiple aspects of a project, by helping to facilitate smaller details, such as a logistic issue with a client as well as putting a wider plan into play by delegating and coordinating with colleagues
Project management doesn’t always entail managing people. In sports marketing, there are projects which vary greatly in size, from smaller projects, such as tracking data insights for one particular athlete, to large scale projects which require a whole team, such as managing a client partnership.
The first soft skill mentioned in this list was ‘communication’ and underlined the importance of understanding the target audience and other key stakeholders within the business.
Researching, as a soft skill, shares a similar importance as it showcases a willingness to gain a deeper understanding of the subject.
Being detail-orientated and undertaking your own thorough research can provide you with a more accurate view of the facts, allowing you to adapt your hard skills to fit in with your findings.
The sports industry is one which benefits greatly from research-orientated people, as emotion lies at the core of a lot of decisions within sport. With many statements and actions often decided by the heart, having a person thinking with their head can be crucial.
The modern workplace requires employees to be able to change their way of working to help the business grow.
This change can be referred to as ‘adaptability’ and is an overarching soft skill which encompasses a number of other skills such as observation, critical thinking, resilience and emotional intelligence.
The impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic affected most industries around the world, with the sporting industry being no exception. The pandemic thrust the need for adaptable colleagues to the top of employers’ list and has remained there ever since.
This is particularly evident in sport, as it brings together many different industries and companies from all over the world, relying on adaptable colleagues to puzzle together effective solutions which appeal to several different parties.
Leadership and sport go hand in hand.
Some of the world’s most famous leaders are people within the sporting industry, but leadership in sport is far more than the traditional view of being loud, proud and ready for anything.
Today, leadership requires a lot of the soft skills already mentioned in this article. A good leader needs to be able to communicate with their team and understand their needs, as well as having the ability to adapt to different ways-of-working.
In any sport setting, leadership is also about understanding the challenges which can affect colleagues, clients and stakeholders and admitting when further information and research is needed to help a team.
Every industry, organisation and role has different needs and will require different skills, but being able to analyse your own skills and registering areas of development will take you a long way to becoming a great colleague and an asset to the sports marketing industry as a whole.
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