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Insightopedia: Expert lessons on targeting sports fans in multiple languages

Sport plays a significant role in South African culture and speaks a universal language, which breaks down barriers and cuts through income and ethnic divides.
Insightopedia: Expert lessons on targeting sports fans in multiple languages

However marketing in various languages plays a very important role in increasing brand reach and amplifying access to multiple fan bases, especially in the South African context with the numerous official languages. The direct translation of a marketing campaign from one language to another isn't enough. Brands must listen and speak authentically to their consumers if they want them to
engage with the brand.

Here's a look at insights into what it takes to effectively market to sports fans in several languages:

Brands need to understand the fan

Research by the American Marketing Association, shows that consumers respond more favourably to messages they receive in their native language. But brands must ensure that their multilingual campaigns go beyond translation.

Marketers must identify and understand their audience to create relevant content for multilingual campaigns. After all, not every person who speaks a given language comes from the same cultural background. Marketers are often mistaken in believing that people who speak the same language think the same way.

When it comes to sports sponsorship, this is a landscape that's changing dramatically thanks to fast moving consumer trends. Rights owners and marketers are under increasing pressure to offer brands far more than what they can achieve themselves. They need to understand the fan and have a proposition that can offer up direct communication with people who are actually going to engage with their brands effectively.

Sports fans don't want to be consumers, they want to be fans

When marketing to sports fans, we often make the comparison with mainstream consumers - this is a mistake brands can't afford to make. Marketers should always be looking at platforms which provide insight, particularly on a local level. This helps us understand not only what they do, but what motivates them, what they like and what they don't like.

Success lies in uncovering deep insight into who these people are, helping marketers create a portrait that translates the fan's behaviours, interests and attitudes, so they know how best to target them and what language would resonate with them the best.

There is talk about the shifting balance of power between brand and consumer, and how these changing relationships are reshaping the marketing industry as we know it. When it comes to marketing to sports fans, the same is also true.

Brands used to be able to control the message and put out what they liked, but that's a thing of the past. Not only is content king, the consumer is in total control. This means it takes far more strategic thinking in order to engage your target audience, but for sports fans, the key lies in being real.

Authenticity holds the key to engagement

Connecting with multilingual audiences in a meaningful way might require brands to invest in resources and tools to support their efforts. Brands looking to launch a multilingual campaign should do so with a growth mindset and a willingness to listen to their consumers.

Brands that are working with agency partners to create multilingual marketing campaigns, should provide translation agencies with as much context as possible and be prepared to answer questions, such as tone and style of messaging, and if they are targeting a specific regional dialect in their language.

It is essential that messaging is something authentic and relevant enough in people's lives that they will stop scrolling on their timelines and pay attention to it. If marketers communicate in multiple languages just because they think it's the right thing to do, fans will see right through it. Brands need to be genuine about it, and there needs to be longevity to it.

Go beyond what you think you know

In today's fragmented landscape where ROI matters more than ever, we all know the importance of ensuring you're reaching the right audience. While there's no one way to do it, it's about going beyond what you think you know as a marketer.

A brand exists in the minds of consumers, that's it, nowhere else. No matter how clever your brand messaging is, it can't alter the perception of the brand. It can only raise awareness or reinforce existing perceptions. If consumers know a brand promise is empty, they'll just scoff at the disconnect between the message and the actual customer brand experience.

Success depends on listening to and understanding the customer to achieve excellence, making sure brand standards are met on the front line, and innovating in response to market trends.

It's all about finding the right platform

For most brands, reaching the right audience means investing heavily in different content and approaches to find what works and what doesn't. The answer lies in finding the right platforms that will really resonate with the existing fan base and reach new fans.

The platforms that work for each target segment will naturally vary by market, not to mention across different languages but doing research to uncover these is well worth the investment. Facebook and Twitter give good reach, but that's by no means the only avenue to go down.

Insightopedia: Expert lessons on targeting sports fans in multiple languages

SuperSport is a great example of a brand that has successfully tackled this issue head on. Realising that in order to remain relevant and attract more subscribers, there was a need to find creative ways to address the language barriers in our country.

SuperSport addressed this through the inclusion of several off-field analysis offerings, by incorporating isiXhosa commentary during the 2009 British Lions tour to South Africa in isiXhosa. By the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, the commentaries in isiXhosa began to attract national media attention.

Since then, the popularity has grown to such an extent that SuperSport now has 11 Xhosa commentators. The late Ntunja, once said: "I get so many messages from men and women who only watch rugby for the Xhosa commentary. It makes a difference. On social media, it does make a big difference when people see the extracts in the tweet."

In 2018 SuperSport introduced the vernacular soccer show IBhola Lethu, presented by Phumlani Msibi,the show focuses on local football topics discussed in an educational and engaging way. Followed by the launch of the Xhosa rugby magazine show Phaka. Both platforms have proven to bridge the gap between young and old soccer and rugby lovers, therefore successfully appealing to a wider spectrum of viewers.

Getting a multilingual campaign right might take time and learning through trial and error. Marketers must be prepared to seek feedback, adapt their processes as new insights become available and be open to employing new strategies to remain authentic and relevant.

Insightopedia: Expert lessons on targeting sports fans in multiple languages


5 Aug 2020 16:46