In case you missed it, we talked in part 1 about the need for branding your sports teams. In part 2, we discussed the role of sports marketing in your athletic department. Now, it’s time to brainstorm some practical ways to brand and market your sports program.
First, let’s make clear what marketing is not. It is not fundraising like you’re probably thinking of “fundraising.” There will be no mentions of doughnuts, coupon books, or car washes. In addition, sports marketing (as referred to in this post) is not distributing stuff (shirts, mugs, bumper stickers, etc.) to your players or booster club members for them to sell.
Now it’s time for some suggestions on how you can market your athletic program.
- Team Stores
When something like this is mentioned, most people either think, “I don’t have time for that” or “The return on the time spent isn’t worth it.” Did you know you can have your own team store set up for free? Parents, alumni, and fans can order team apparel directly through your custom web-store. On top of that, your athletic program gets a percentage of the sales! Sound too good to be true? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the customizable team stores.
Schools are using these team stores for spirit wear, team apparel, footwear, etc. People buy your gear, then act as billboards as they walk around in apparel marked with your school’s logo. Who doesn’t love free advertising?
- Social Media
Nowadays, websites are a given. In today’s world, social media is becoming a given for organizations, too. Think of these benefits:
- Facebook: Allows you to connect with parents and alumni (72% of American adults use Facebook)
- Instagram and Snapchat: Allows you to connect with students (53% of 18-29 year olds use Instagram; Snapchat’s largest demographic: 13-24 year olds)
There’s no better way to tell your sports program’s story than through social media. These platforms give you an avenue for telling your story through multimedia. Give your fans a behind-the-scenes look with photos and video.
- Game Experience
There’s no better way to connect with sports fans than by giving them a memorable game experience. Why not pick one of the following for this coming season?
- Platform event: designed to promote a social cause (e.g., Breast Cancer Awareness, Armed Forces Appreciation)
- Theme night (e.g., Superhero Night, Ugly Sweater Night)
- Fan pre-game/post-game event (e.g., tailgating, walk to the stadium)
- Special group spaces (e.g., student section, booster club or alumni spaces or seating)
- Contests (e.g., pay and shoot for prizes, relays for parents, mini-dunk contest for kids)
The goal of sports marketing is to create, communicate, and deliver experiences that have value for your school’s students, families and community. Are you doing things to add value? Could you be doing more?