After the strong response to the “Envisioning Elite Status” entry, I thought it would be useful to follow-up on the core values that coaches should consider when building their program. I have interacted with several coaches in the past week who are investing time to make sure that they have a sound structure in place so that they can build their program brand. In fact, many of them have developed themed program mantras (e.g., “Chattanooga Strong”, “Commit to the Spartan”) that will allow them to package their program values for student-athletes and other stakeholders. This is exactly the type of proactive approach that programs need!
While the themed element is an important marketing concept, it is not the most critical step in the initial branding process. Instead, this honor goes to the development of sound core values that will guide your program members on a daily basis. With this being said, there are probably a few readers who are probably wondering exactly what I mean when mentioning these “infamous” core values. Well, from a marketing standpoint, I am referring to the different areas that you would like your program members to embrace on a daily basis. If I were to ask current college coaches to identify their top core value, my guess is that at least 90% of them would answer some variation of athletic excellence (aka winning) – and a similar percentage of normal readers might agree with this assessment. However, I would caution coaches of this type of approach given the current state of college athletics and the recent history of program elimination. Allow me to explain what I mean here 🙂
A major element of marketing is determining who you are trying to position your product for. In this case, it is important for coaches to recognize that there is no target market more important than administrators. After all, if coaches are not able to “sell” their program to athletic directors and senior administrators, then there is always the chance that their program will be eliminated. To respond to this challenge, it is important for coaches (and wrestling supporters) to be informed on the program areas that are most important to administrators. As shown in the chart below, it is certainly going to take a well-rounded approach by coaches if they are going to market their program effectively to the senior administrative staff. While I never want to discourage coaches from wanting to win, it is also important that they understand the importance of striving to succeed in other key program areas.
So, what exactly does the previous chart mean? In my mind, it means that coaches must include the type of core values that will encourage their staff and student-athletes to succeed in a variety of areas. For example, there must be values (e.g., Dedicated Daily Discipline, Continual Commitment [note: exact meaning defined by coaching staff]) that encourages student-athletes to make the right decisions on the mat, in the classroom, and in the community. After all, this is clearly an important extension of a program’s brand. Similar values must be in place to make sure that programs are maximizing their chance of program sustainability. And as I continually mention to coaches, if you are uncertain about these program elements, sit down with your administrator and ask how you can build a program that is valuable to the athletic program. Then go “Above and Beyond” in trying to develop a set of core values that will differentiate your program!
More to come on specific program values in the next entry…Thanks for stopping by to check out the site!