Five Tips for Olympics-related sales for your small business

Every two years a worldwide event comes along and grabs the collective attention of the global population, presenting an unparalleled opportunity for businesses big and small. The Olympics will open on July 27th and the games will continue until August 12th, providing small businesses with a two week period to capitalize on the excitement and patriotism that accompany the games. Given the scale of this opportunity, it makes sense to take a look at your business and see how you can leverage this attention to build sales:

Tips to leverage Olympic-related sales

1) Make sure your online ecommerce store or website’s keywords and SEM (search engine marketing) campaigns are adjusted to reflect current Olympic trends that will capture consumers. For example, Usain Bolt is a huge name in the Olympics, so if you sell door and window hardware try terms like "gold medal bolts."

2) Find real connections between your business and the Olympics, such as local athletes competing in the games or athletes that use your product or service. Promote those connections in placements on your site’s home page and in email marketing campaigns. If there is no immediate connection, try linking to hot events or athletes. For example, take 10% off a product if the US wins a gold medal on the track that day, or discount a service if an athlete makes it to the next round.

3) Contact your web hosting company to prepare for an influx of traffic and create a special landing page for specific products that have strong tie-ins to the Olympics. This ensures your site is able to handle any additional traffic or orders a promotion might generate.

4) Appeal to consumer patriotism by displaying the American flag and showcasing products and brands that create an emotional response, such as hoop earrings to promote the US basketball team. And keep an eye on the news so you can redo your site’s home page or send out a quick email campaign to take advantage of any Olympic news that’s relevant to your business.

5)    Do NOT use the licensed trademarks, language and imagery of the official Olympic Games or London 2012 in your promotions. The organizers are very protective of their brands, and if you haven’t licensed them you risk the possibility of legal action.

Advice from the Experienced

Mihaela Lica Butler, Principal Partner at Pamil Visions PR said, “It's a bit tricky for non-sponsors to promote their products using the Olympics, especially when it comes to sportswear businesses. The London 2012 brand is fundamental to the Games, and is protected by law. So are phrases and symbols such as the London Olympics logo; the mascots; words like Olympic, Olympics, Olympiad, including plurals and derivatives; the Olympic motto 'Citius Altius Fortius' / 'Faster Higher Stronger'; etc. The LOCOG are actively monitoring for ads and campaigns that might infringe intellectual property, so handle with care.”

But there are ways to work around the problem. “For example, M&S (the Marks&Spencer retailer) in the UK are running a campaign called "on your marks," featuring M&S heels on a starting block. This is a brilliant move: they are making use of their brand name, and the starting block makes you think about the Olympics, without actually using the Olympic brand,” said Butler. “The answer is to get creative. Some may use artwork of the Olympics as they were in 776 BC, others may use sports related slogans, or reward their shoppers with "gold."

Victor Rubio, Director of eCommerce for Gameday Merchandising a Yahoo! Small Business customer and the owner or partner of dozens of sports merchandising sites like CalBearsShop.com suggests that small businesses “see if there is anything of patriotic value in your inventory, especially if it is unique. Reach out to stores with patriotic items before the event so they can be ready to sell them before the event.”

Sabina Ptacin, the co-founder and Chief Excitement Officer at 'PRENEUR believes social media is critical. “Engage your social media base (Twitter, Facebook) in the Olympics and shopping at your store by tying sales promotions to the success of the US at the Olympics. Perhaps every time Olympian scores a gold medal you offer free shipping or you offer percentages off based on US Olympian success and medals placing. Use hashtags to tie your business to the Olympics, for instance if you were Checkerboard Pizza you could do #CheckerboardOlympicDeals or CheckerboardGoingforGold, and offer a discount or deal to anyone who re-tweets your company's hashtag.”

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