3 Key Questions to Transform Your Marketing as an Esports Tournament Organizer

Most esports players don’t compete just for the money. In fact, most professional players will tell you that the financial benefits are secondary.  Despite this, many tournament organizers still feel discouraged when they’re unable to offer The International 2019 sized prize pools. The right marketing and brand strategy, however, can be even more valuable than a large prize. By focusing on 3 key goals -- becoming differentiated, discoverable, and credible-- you, too, can build a community around your tournaments that keeps players coming back. 

1.  Are you differentiated?

Why would a player choose your tournament out of the thousands of tournaments that exist? Do your tournaments offer unique value? How you differentiate is the first question you need to answer. Let's look at several strategies to help you stand out from the crowd

Competitive Analysis

The first step to defining whether or not you are differentiated is to conduct a competitive analysis. To conduct a competitor analysis, begin by drawing up a list of organizers that you share a target audience with. Include organizers who compete indirectly with your company, such as those creating tournaments for other games and top organizing companies like ESL. Begin looking at your competitors with three questions in mind:

  • How do customers feel about them?
  • Why are they doing what they’re doing?
  • What can I learn from them?

To make this process easier, use our free guide to help visualize and walk you through the key questions of competitive analysis. 

Download Our Free Guide

Social Media Analysis

Social media is particularly important in differentiating yourself. According to Hootsuite, 88% of American 18 to 29 year olds use social media, which is the part of the prime age demographic of esports players. To maximize your social media marketing, undertake research on the following areas: 

  • What social media channels are they using? Are you using the same ones?
  • What are their engagement metrics, such as average likes, shares, and comments?
  • How often do they post?
  • How many followers do they have and how fast are they getting more?
  • What are they doing well? 
  • What are their weaknesses? 

Once you compile this information, you should better understand how to emulate the success of your competitors, learn from the failures of your competitors, and create an effective marketing strategy going forward. The process of competitive analysis is ongoing, so be sure to frequently check on your competitors and keep your finger on the pulse of market trends. 

...emulate the success of your competitors, learn from the failures of your competitors, and create an effective marketing strategy going forward...

Now that you’ve taken the time to better understand your competition, adapt your tournament to serve esports players better than your competitors, and make sure players know about it by using your new pitch.

Your New Pitch

In the age of clickbait articles, your pitch must be short and sweet. This is your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP.  Your USP should be one to two sentences that succinctly illustrate your unique value to players when compared to the competition. 

A strong USP is the foundation upon which you market yourself. Your webpage, blog, social media channels, and all other marketing should align with this messaging.

The next challenge is to use your channels effectively so that your message is heard. 

2.  Are you Discoverable?

Creating your USP helps solidify what your tournaments have to offer, but is this message getting heard by players? Are your webpages eye-catching enough for players to even bother learning more? When players go looking for tournaments, can they even find you?

Being discoverable is a massive challenge for tournaments; there are hundreds of new tournaments created every day. According to Thiemo Bräutigam, journalist and Managing Editor for The Esports Observer, the amount of esports tournaments has more than tripled since 2010.

Audience Analysis

Overcoming the challenges of reaching players means first better understanding them. Much like the competitive analysis, conducting an analysis of your target audience is key.

Begin this process by surveying players that have consistently engaged with your tournaments, and then try to reach out to players that have engaged with your primary competition. The aim is to create a persona or multiple personas of your primary customers. 

Ardath Albee, CEO of Marketing Interactions, defines a marketing persona as a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience. A persona can be created by simply asking your audience several key questions. This may include:

  • What is your age?
  • What is your nationality?
  • What is your gender?
  • What games do you play primarily?
  • What social media channels do you use?
  • What do you look for in an esports tournament?
  • How did you discover our tournament?
  • Why do you compete in esports tournaments?

Based on this research, compile one to two personas of your average audience. For example, one part of your audience may be 18 to 25 years old, European, and primarily use Twitter. Another persona may be 30 to 38 years old, South East Asian, and primarily active on Facebook.  These brief personas can be used to shape your marketing strategy.

Content Channels

Use the results of the survey to decide which channels to be active on and how you should tailor your message to your audience. If the average respondent primarily uses Facebook and competes to gain notoriety, creating Facebook posts about how to grow their esports following would likely be successful. 

Aim to publish content on channels dedicated to esports. CAPSL is one such channel, which enables organizers to publish and advertise their tournaments to the entire CAPSL community. Since CAPSL surfaces tournament content relevant to each individual’s gaming preferences, organisers creating engaging tournaments have access to unique levels of free customer acquisition, helping you maximize your growth.

There are a wide variety of new and innovative channels for targeting esports fans, so embrace exploration beyond your main channels. If a competitor starts using a new channel that you’re not using, perhaps that means it’s an opportunity for growth. 

Content Strategy

After deciding which channels to participate in, the next step is to create a content calendar. Content should be designed with the goal of driving traffic back to your website/tournament page, but remain personal and conversational. To maintain interest in your page, schedule two to three posts per day.

When designing content, take advantage of mental shortcuts to maximize reach and engagement. Joe Karbo, marketing expert and author, argues that content designed around the Four R’s: Reincarnation, Recognition, Romance, and Reward. Based on the Four R’s, consumers want content and services that...

  • Reincarnation: help them leave their mark on the world and accomplish their goals.
  • Recognition: make them feel important and valued.
  • Romance:  make them feel good about themselves.
  • Reward: offer them a reward.

Keep in mind that different social media channels have different strengths. Jan Wong, Forbes 30 under 30 marketing guru and founder of Open Minds, recommends diversifying your content across channels. Youtube, for example, is a better forum for posting long videos, such as full streams. For a platform like Twitter, you can take that same stream and cut it down to a 15 second clip for best results.

Most importantly,  remember that social media is about conversations; proactively encourage your audience to participate in the conversation by asking direct questions, setting up polls, and replying to their comments in a timely manner. Never directly try to ‘sell’ your tournament to players, but rather, post interesting, entertaining, and valuable content related to your tournament. Keep your content short, sweet, and visual to grab your audience’s attention and loop them into the conversation. 

...remember that social media is about conversations; proactively encourage your audience to participate…

Search Engine Optimization

Make sure you’re at the top of the search results when players are choosing which tournament to participate in. This beginner’s guide to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will introduce you to key concepts and practices to becoming more discoverable through search engines. 

3.  Are you credible? 

Credibility is vital to gaining trust as a tournament organizer in the unregulated frontier of esports. Both potential sponsors and competitors are cautious, and may overlook your tournament if its credibility is not obvious.

The question is, how do you build trust before someone even participates or spectates your tournament? The key to building that trust is a combination of relationships, data, and security. 

Relationships

Relationships can make or break how much consumers trust your brand. Naturally, if someone close to you were to recommend a brand, the chance you’ll try it is dramatically increased. As an organization, you need to actively cultivate these types of advocates. 

Finding and cultivating brand advocates is hard. You need to actively engage with your target audience, and regularly let them know that you understand and are responsive to their concerns. The pay-off is huge, however. Once you have a customer’s strong support, you can ask them to provide you with testimonials or refer your organization to their friends. 

You need to actively engage with your target audience, and regularly let them know that you understand and are responsive to their concerns.

Data

While testimonials can do wonders, sponsors and gamers alike love to see the hard data behind your tournaments. Historical data demonstrating high engagement, viewership, and participation is great for enticing the support of sponsors and players.

This is where platforms like CAPSL are here to help. CAPSL makes it simple for brands to search for tournaments to sponsor based on historical tournament data. As a result, the credibility problem for tournament organisers is eliminated and sponsors can directly support high performing tournaments, with little to no effort on the organisers part. In turn, tournaments with brand sponsorship also increase the tournament’s credibility with players.

You can also personally track participation, viewership, and engagement with the help of any spreadsheet software. That data could be advertised to players to show you have an active tournament, or to sponsors to show you have a vibrant community around your tournament. 

Security

After multiple publicized cases of tournaments offering prizes that did not actually exist, being able to trust that a tournament’s prizes are real is another critical aspect of a tournament’s credibility. Even a moment of doubt that a prize is real can mean a player overlooks your tournament.

Leveraging platforms like CAPSL, which guarantees all prizes are real and secure, ensures that your tournament doesn’t have to bear the burden of proving the legitimacy of its prizes, so you can focus on growing your community and creating quality tournaments. 

Takeaways

Are you differentiated, discoverable, and credible?  Revisiting these questions regularly will help ensure that you give your tournament the best chance at success possible in the ever-evolving esports marketplace. Marketing is in many ways more art than science, but still requires consistently observing and adapting to competitors’ behavior and consumers’ desires. Making this kind of ongoing questionsing and data monitoring central to your marketing strategy will ensure that you truly are differentiated, discoverable, and credible. 

Special thanks to Jan Wong and all of our contributors for their invaluable insights and marketing expertise. Check out Jan’s company Open Minds to learn more about mastering marketing for your organization!