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How Aussie start-ups can win Olympic gold

Friday, 27 July 2012 | By Oliver Milman

feature-olympic-stadium-thumbThe Olympic Games are kicking off in London and small businesses in the area are hoping for a windfall after 10 billion pounds ($15 billion) in public outlay for the event.


Research by the Lloyds Banking Group estimates that UK GDP will grow by 16.5 billion pounds ($24.8 billion) as a result of the games, with SMEs accounting for 52% of the benefits.


However, it’s not an entirely rosy picture, with businesses located in the vicinity of the stadium in east London having voiced their disquiet, claiming that they have been shut off from the influx of visitors to the area.


So if businesses in London can’t take advantage, what chance do you have? Well, if you play your cards right, being on the other side of the world shouldn’t prevent you from cashing in on some of the reflected glory.


Here are five top ways that your start-up can capitalise upon the 2012 Olympics.



1. Find a connection to an athlete




Hitching a product or service to a successful athlete is a tried-and-tested marketing technique used by big brands hoping to grab some of the reflected glory.


But you don’t need a huge sponsorship deal in order to benefit from the endeavours of our Olympians.


Just witness the example of Bradley Wiggins, who recently became the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France. According to Visa, there was a 5.1% increase in the amount spent on bikes, equipment and servicing in the UK during the last week of the Tour de France compared to the same week in 2011.


Australia has gold medal hopes across a range of sports, including swimming, rowing, sailing, athletics, hockey and cycling.


Even if your business doesn’t directly service these areas, some well-placed marketing showing a link between any gold medal success and your business – such as an irreverent news story about an athlete or even if the athlete’s home town is near you – could pay off.


2. Get patriotic




TV coverage of the Olympics has shifted from Seven to Nine this time around, but it’s certain that a heavy focus on the Australian team will remain.


Global sporting events involving an Australian team don’t come around very often, so it’s a good opportunity to tap into the surge in patriotism that will follow.


You could display the Australian flag in certain areas of your website or craft quick-fire email marketing campaigns that capitalise upon any feel-good stories emerging from the Games.


If you pride yourself on a quick delivery of products or provide a service that has trumped a rival – ideally from overseas – don’t be afraid to use Olympic terminology to generate traction with consumers.


3. Join the social conversation




The major sponsors of the Games are going all-out with their social media efforts, with Coca-Cola hoping to reach 1.5 billion people with an athletic musical track that can be edited and shared, while watchmaker Omega will be posting Olympic facts and trivia on Twitter – with an obvious focus on record times.


Your campaign won’t be on the same scale, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to get in on the conversation.


Data firm Effective Measure says that Australians will be engaging with the Games via social media far more than in 2008.


Its research, which you can see in this infographic, shows that 39% of the public will use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to interact with others about the Olympics, more than the 37% who will engage in face-to-face or phone conversations about the event.


This provides small businesses with an ideal opportunity to share content, start conversations and, ultimately, drive customer relationships and sales throughout the Games.


“Sport patriotism is alive and well in Australia with over a third citing it as the main reason why they would choose to watch the swimming event over others. This connection to and awareness of local sports personalities can be used by brands to engage with Australian consumers on a deeper level,” says Effective Measure’s Michael Robertson.


4. Launch a special product




London is awash with Olympic memorabilia and customers in Australia could appreciate some of the same, provided you are careful about how you go about it.


If your business has anything to do with travel, why not theme something around London or the UK.


Similarly, any apps or games you run could include an Olympic theme, while retailers can offer special deals that reference the Games.


While it’s important that you don’t claim to be an official backer of the Games, a special edition product or rebranded service is a quick and easy way to catch the eye of customers and shows that you are on the ball.


5. Don’t step on the big brands’ toes




Official sponsors of the Games such as Coca-Cola and McDonald's spent close to $100 million each for the privilege, so you can understand why they’d want to protect this investment.


The lengths these brands would go to surprised many, however, when it was revealed that a ‘brand exclusion zone’ would extend around the Olympic stadium, where only official sponsors would be able to advertise.


The zone would extend up to 1km beyond the stadium’s perimeter, for up to 35 days, in order to wipe out rival brands. An outcry over the consumption of chips made by rivals of McDonald’s subsequently led to a back down over the zone.


However, the episode should serve as a warning to any business looking to cheekily get a piece of Olympic glory. Unless you relish the prospect of a legal letter, do not use licensed trademarks, language and imagery of the official Olympic Games or London 2012 in your promotions.