Few words of sports sponsorship in pool billiards

Having worked as a psychologist aiming to enhance peak performance in many pool and snookers players for over two years now, they sometimes ask for my advice also in sponsorship. After all, pool is a relatively new form of sports in terms of sponsorship. Funny enough, at the age of 21 (so, a long time ago…), I worked for a year at a company specialized in sports sponsorship, so I have some basic knowledge of it. As these requests from pool players have become more frequent, I started to become curious and dig into this topic in more detail.

From the company’s perspective today, the goals of sponsorship are usually brand development, increasing product or service awareness, boosting sales, reaching specific markets, developing customer relationships, achieving media visibility, and motivating employees. They expect their sponsorship partners to have trust, recognition within the target group, accessibility, and value compatibility. It’s also essential to have at most a minimal risk of negative publicity, one would expect. The key is to find a brand match or a brand that unites the target group, I think. Recently, I’ve given a lot of thought to what unites men who play pool. After all, its 90 percent men, at the very least. It used to be beer, but then all of a sudden, this spring many of the regular players at my usual pool bar seemed to get sober (because they wanted to become better players) and stopped drinking beer. What else? Honestly, I did not come up with anything. So, please tell me if you do. At least the target and the company should have imaginary similarities or there should be a good humor punchline such as the Iceman Mika Immonen and the Finnish refrigerator manufacturer UPO would have, but these are not easy to find.

Today, social media allows direct communication from the pool player to the audience. Current Matchroom rank #1, Fedor Gorst has 139 t followers in facebook and 57.4 t in Instagram. Francisco Sanchez Ruiz, #2 in Matchroom rank has 33 t followers in facebook and 30.4 t in Instagram. There is no one even close to beat Efren “Magician” Reyes, who has 991t followers in facebook and 39 t followers in Instagram. A closer look at the posts reveals what they share. For many, it’s selfies from somewhere around the world or tournament posters, whereas for Efren, they vary from food pictures to more ambiguous patterns and relationships. But hey, he is the magician and he himself does not even seem to be behind the posts 😊.

All modern books on sports marketing and sponsorship tell the reader that in order to be effective, social media marketing should be entertaining, feel genuine and be based on daily experiences, consist cross-marketing (with another celebrity) and express opinions openly and bravely. Lesson number one to anyone is: You need to increase story telling in your social media marketing. You need to focus on purpose-driven marketing. Marketing needs to be emotionally appealing. Use pets, children, parents, wives. husbands, friends, co-players or whatever it takes to tell others how much you have sacrificed for what you do. Tell a story.

Here is a good example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JaHtpjzIME

And here is yet another good example: https://youtu.be/pmfjaSH2EDY?si=2SNMogqeScNikeFH

Stories that work in sports marketing are growth stories (“this is how I became what I am today”), survival stories (“cancer nearly beat me but yet it didn’t”), practical jokes and surprises. Over the three years that I’ve been part of the pool billiards community, I have heard many growth and survival stories. Some of which have nearly taken my breath away. Each individual professional player can use their personal story as a part of their marketing.

From the company’s point of view, sponsoring pool events can generate leads. Create the “most valuable player” of the tournament vote and get contact information of each voter for your register. Easy, isn’t it? Just be creative.

To summarize, I’m eager to see where the world of pool and sponsorship will be in a few years from now. Pool has been experiencing growth and increasing popularity in recent years. This is much due to increased media coverage including wider television and live streaming of major tournaments and events. The fact that pool is played and enjoyed by people worldwide contributes in itself to its broad appeal and accessibility. During recent years also the professional pool circuit has grown, with more tournaments, prize money as high as 250 000 US dollars per Matchroom tournament, and well-known players emerging as stars. However, thus far I’ve seen too many top players to struggle with financing their profession and struggle to find any other sponsors than equipment. There is more to it, I would like to encourage you. Just find your sponsorship match and approach boldly the company that you think is the one. Remember, perseverance and creativity can open doors to unexpected opportunities.


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