Marketing Musts for Programs: Five Tips for Top Performance

Monday, October 31st

With many non-revenue sport seasons now in full swing, it is the ideal time to be thinking about strategies that you can implement to build your program from a marketing standpoint.  As you know from reading my previous entries, successful marketing takes an approach where coaches regularly invest in initiatives that will allow them to grow their relationships with key stakeholders.  With this being an online blog, it makes sense that we focus on the particular strategies that organizations can use to improve their efforts via social networks.  While these specific five tips are clearly useful in all marketing efforts, we will tailor the discussion to building brand via technology for now.  So, without further ado, I present to you the five “Marketing Musts” that will allow you to grow your program to an elite level.

Five “Marketing Musts” For Programs

1. Invest in regular program features: There is no question that regular updates are a must for programs on social network sites.  After all, this is what keeps followers engaged in your messages on a regular basis.  However, there is also significant value in having a foundation of scheduled programs that you release on a regular basis.  First, it gives your program a chance to have a consistency in the messages that you are delivering – and this is something that is easier for your followers to track.  Second, it allows for the opportunity to develop creative themed names that will build your program’s brand.  When done properly, this above and beyond approach also provides a platform where coaches can build on their efforts from a creative standpoint.

Example: See Binghamton Wrestling’s “Throwback Thursday” and “Two Minute Tuesday” features on their Facebook page

2. Use program mantra and values in promotional materials: You have heard me say this many times and you will hear me say it again.  Branding takes an intentional approach where your key messages must be reinforced on a regular basis.  Build on the first “Marketing Must,” it is highly beneficial if you are able to use your mantra (or a variation of it) in your program features and messages.  For example, the “Living Cowboy Tough” mantra by the University of Wyoming Wrestling has been strategically positioned in many of the messages being released by their program.  When combined with the inclusion of values emphasized by the program, this is a great way to ensure that you are building the specific brand outlined by your staff.

Example: See “Ring the Bell” mantra by South Dakota State University and “Right Now” by Virginia Tech Wrestling

3. Interact with consumers on a regular basis: To build a program the right way, you have to strive to have engaged fans.  There is no question that this is directly influenced by the the first two “Marketing Musts” described in this entry.  However, it is important to note that engagement is just a first step in developing loyal followers.  To develop loyal fans, there must be extra steps taken by your staff to interact with your consumers.  When you do this, it sends the message that they are valuable to your program.  In addition, it allows them to get to know your staff and this is always good for brand building.  While you cannot do this with every follower (or comment), there can certainly be a commitment to make sure that your fans feel valued.  Trust me when I say that your efforts will be rewarded in the long-run.

Example: See interaction from Chattanooga on their Facebook page

4. Cross Promote Strategically with Similar Entities: Sometimes building your followers will come easily with the updates that your program is providing.  Other times it will not.  Regardless, you can always improve on your efforts by cross-promoting your releases on sites that make sense.  The most basic example is the tagging that coaches are now starting to use on Facebook.  When you tag a person or page, it essentially allows your post to go on their feed/wall.  Another option is to simply post your update to another person or group’s wall so that their followers can see it. For example, there are programs who have started to post their content on the ELSM Facebook page.  Obviously this makes sense given the nature of the page.  Another strategy is to promote other entities (sports in your athletic department or other related pages) in your posts so that you are able to extend your reach.  In addition to increasing the opportunity to tag programs with similar fan bases, you also build loyalty with the other entity that you are promoting.  This seems like a “win/win” to me!

Example: See posts regularly released by Maryland Wrestling on their Facebook and Twitter feeds

5. Strive for Opportunities to Set Standard of Excellence: If you have read my previous posts, you know that I like to end with the elite concepts that are reserved for the top programs.  If marketing is a passion for your program, then you should strive to be the trendsetters in your sport.  In addition to assuring that you will grow your program, there is also a very strong chance that you will influence your sport in a positive way as well.  So, implement all of the previous “Marketing Musts” and then evaluate your efforts.  Once you do this, strive for excellence in your marketing by taking risks that will allow you to truly innovate.  This will put you on track to set the standard of excellence in marketing.  Now go get after it!

Examples: TBA (we are going to find out in the next couple of months)

“Excellence is the unlimited ability to improve the quality of what it is that you have to offer on a daily basis” (Pitino)


About ELSMarketing

ELSM is a company that specializes in the development and implementation of innovative marketing plans for sport organizations, businesses, and programs. By focusing on the client’s goals and expectations, we strive to develop strategies that will build the brand of the entity in a way that will ensure future success. The bottom line is that we are committed to working with entities who are looking to take themselves to the next level from a marketing standpoint. While there are a variety of strategies that we implement to achieve this, it starts with the values we have in place for our company. Here at ELSM, “Innovation is the Expectation!”
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