Paul Sickmon: Sports Marketing with Knox Sports

November 26, 2019

Are you in need of sports sponsorship consulting?

Paul Sickmon is the President of Knox Sports.

Knox Sports has been the premier sports sponsorship negotiation, evaluation & execution agency for over 20 years.

The team at Knox Sports is confident that their customized sports sponsorships produce better results for the same budget. They pride themselves in getting the best value for their clients’ money.

Knox Sports has been in business since 1997 and their knowledge of sports sponsorships and team inventory make them the most reliable company to go to.

Learn more about how Knox Sports can help you get the best deal for your money by listening to this episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur above and don’t forget to subscribe on  Apple Podcasts – Stitcher – Spotify –Google Play –Castbox – TuneIn – RSS.

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Welcome to the thoughtful entrepreneur Show. I'm Josh Elledge, founder and CEO of up my We turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities, grow their authority, and help them build partnerships with top influencers. We believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world. stick around to the end of the show, where I'll reveal how you can be our next guest on one of the fastest growing daily inspiration podcasts on the planet in 15 to 20 minutes. Let's go. All right, Paul Sickmon, you are the president of Knox Sports. And I'm really excited to have this conversation because I've never talked about sports marketing. And, and so I'd like to talk about the opportunity, who would be a great candidate as a marketing director or owner of a company to consider marketing alongside a sports franchise sports week. And so, first off, thank you so much for joining us and what was your background getting into this? I see that you've worked, sales and marketing in the sports arena for quite some time.

Yeah, I started out in school I worked all five years at Florida State up in when I was in school, and the marketing department there for the end of that period, and then came down to Tampa, worked for a decade with the Buccaneers here in Tampa as a director of sales and marketing. And so on that side of the fence, I was selling sponsorships and then I started this company 23 years ago and basically switch sides and to represent those the same companies that I was negotiating to try to get their money now I represent them when we go spend it across the country.

And so when you so I will explain but what do you mean by both sides?

Yeah. So you know, basically there's two sides of the equation. The- there is a company that is spending money to associate with a- with a team with their college. Pro youth, whatever it is, there are companies out there that basically in sports sponsorship, they choose to spend money with those teams to try to accomplish a goal or set of goals. And so and then when I was on the team side of the business, I was selling to those companies trying to convince them that spending money with the Buccaneers or with Florida State was the right thing to do. Now, we represent those same companies, figure out their goals and objectives, and then figure out what markets are important to them. And then we go and utilize the power of the sports brands in their key markets to try to accomplish their goals. So now we're spending sponsorship dollars part of their marketing budget, and all niche which is sports marketing to try to accomplish their goals.

So, so what types of companies are really good fit for sports marketing,

really companies that have defined goals. I mean, I think sports does branding, as well as anybody and that's always been the history that people would grab brand money from Sports But the reality is, is that sports is the most expensive brand by you can make. So I think a better way to look at it is what are our goals outside of athletics. If we want people to walk in the door to buy furniture, or we want people to walk in our door and buy a hamburger, or we want, we want to gather data, to try to sell a policy or to sell. So we have to figure out what our goals are outside of sports from a marketing perspective, and then make it work in sports. One of the biggest mistakes companies make is they don't put a metric on their athletic relationship. They just say, hey, the team did great. So that must have been a good deal for us. And that's the relatively wrong way to go about it. The right way to go about is, hey, listen, we need our sales to go up 8% this year to be a successful company. And you should ask your sports partner to help you accomplish that goal.

Hmm, interesting. And so, you know, I guess in my mind, I'm thinking, well, we're talking about sports at the collegiate level, talking about professional sports. I mean, that's all The stuff that large enterprise level companies do and I right

no I think in a process you're probably are right Josh but I think in a college sense those are regional buys which are more local companies I think, you know, college sponsorships can be incredibly affordable and and something that would not even I think hurt most budgets at all, they would be just a small percentage of what you normally spend in sports. So because of that regional nature of the business, you can really do college deals very, very affordably. I mean, you can do things as easy as youth sponsorships doing things at your local park can make an impact if you really work at it and you have people behind you that consultant in a good way to tell you how to do it and you're not just throwing a sign at it too many companies with big egos guy you know guys and gals in the- in the big chair, they throw a sign at the problem and think hey, it didn't work or it did work well. No, you have to do a lot more if you more sophisticated and how you treat athletic sponsorships and if you do it right, and utilize the passion that people have for those teams. Yeah. Much better than you do outside of sports.

So what is the main advantage to advertising within sports as opposed to just throwing up a billboard?

That's a great question. I think the- the number one thing is that sports is one of the only things left out there that is consumed live. It is just it is consumed live, whether it's streaming, whether it's radio, TV, whatever it is, you're consuming it live, therefore, the messaging that's in and around that event is also consumed live and can't be skipped over and can't be missed. I and so that's the number one thing I think the second thing probably as important is that the passion that people have for their team, from a religious standpoint, you know, the football team may not do well this year. The basketball team may crapped the bed, but the baseball team comes on and wins the World Series. And by the way, if they all do terrible, you still went there and you're going to root for them. And so there is an affinity toward that brand as a fan and You can't take away that affinity is what you need as a brand to take advantage of and force and action, whether that's to come into my store, whether that's to enter a contest and give data, or whether it's simply to have the brand associated with my brand, and therefore I feel better about it. So that's why,

you know, I remember a long, long time ago going through Tony Robbins training, and he talked about, you know, Nike commercials, and Nike commercials would never tell you about like, the features and benefits of the shoe. It would just, you know, they'd show you Michael Jordan, I love Michael Jordan, your- your emotions are elevated, you're like, Ah, you know, and then bam, then they show you the shoe. Then they show you Michael Jordan, and then they show you the shoe. And it means that the general idea is just, you know, people emotionally heightened state and they see a banner or you know, here's some announcement or some sort of signage or something State Farm Insurance. I feel really good State Farm Insurance. I feel really good statements. Is it that sort of thing? Is that what's going on?

I think that's true to a certain extent. I think that the brand, certainly the brand makes you feel good because its associated with a brand that you already love. So that's, that's at a baseline. But I think you have to go deeper than that. You have to say, Okay, how do I take that affinity and make it move me. And that might be like I said, it might be as simple as Think about this, if you could register to win to fly away with the team, with your favorite team to go to somewhere else in the country and watch them play. For most sports fans, that's like, never I'll never have an opportunity to do that. But if I can register for that and get it, it's amazing. Be my dream. Well, people do. We grab that data, and then turn that data into something that resembles business for our companies.

Nice. So I would imagine another thing too, is just affinity. It's like, I love UCF sports, and oh, so does company x. They also work we're on the same team. We're so there might be that that kind of I'm just thinking psychologically of like what sports Mark Getting provides that traditional advertising wouldn't be able to give you.

It will. Yeah, exactly right. I mean, and that is where all the social pieces are coming into play right now. I mean, people are, are consuming information in a way different way than they did five years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, they're consuming information differently. And so you have to as an advertiser, as a- as even as a team, you have to present that information in a unique way. And so our sponsors, the folks that we work with have to find a way to grab that affinity that you just mentioned. I mean, right now, we both in the state of Florida, there's- there's a hurricane that's coming. And all of the teams that play this weekend are all being impacted by that storm. Everyone is finding out that information any way they can, they're grabbing their phone, they're figuring out well, what if my clients are you know, your sponsor is in there giving valid information being the first one to deliver information about that hurricane and how it affects my favorite team that weekend. I now feel better about that brand. It just Sure branding way because I consume the information about my team from them.

And how about just in terms of sports in general is, you

know, I mean, I've heard numbers about viewerships and- and that sort of thing that- that have trended down. What- what sorts of trends have you seen over the past, say 510 years? Well, the trends are just different. If you ask me, are people consuming radio at the same level they did five years ago? The answer is right. You know, are people consuming podcasts? Thankfully for you? Yes. So that- that's the answer. So how do you there's no less people rooting for teams are having an affinity for teams, sports is continuing to grow, which is why rights fees have not gone backwards. If you look at the TV rights, or the or the- the national online rights fees or the streaming rights fees, those are continuing to explode, which tells you, the fans are there. They're consuming it differently. And we just have to find a way to attach ourselves to that new consumption pattern.

Gotcha, gotcha. All right, so, so who is how would somebody engage with knock sports? And where do you fit in there?

Well, our company really we don't sell anything Josh, our represent, we basically represent a bunch of companies all over the United States. And so our website is not sports. com. But the answer is basically to let us come in, talk to you about your goals and objectives and figure out if sports might work. And then we'll give you some advice about where that might play out. And we actually are freaking a free service to our credit our customers, whenever their budget is we work inside the budget, we don't charge for our hours charge for travel, all those other things. So we're actually a free service to everybody. We just basically make their sports relationships work. That's it.

And so in terms of the sports franchises that you've worked with, what are

you are you can you say like, what what some of the sports teams you've worked with our it'd be harder to say not I mean, I'm Everyone in the state of Florida we have we have deals with probably 60 to 80 different colleges around the United States right now with our 22 National clients. I mean, there is not there's- there's probably not many people we have not worked with around the country. Because it's it's a small fraternity in terms of pro and college folks that are selling sponsorships, and we get to work with fortunate we get to work with most of them around the United States. So we have a global experience in regional pockets everywhere. And, and so yes, we're fortunate to have had that experience over the last 23 years. That's awesome. All right. Well, Paul Sickmon

You're the president and CEO of Knox sports. You're on the web at Knox Thank you so much for joining us.

Oh, I appreciate it. Josh. Have a great day.

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